Wednesday, October 23, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
Mississippi State University Gets $1.9 Million for Jobs Program
The U.S. Department of Labor today [Oct. 22] announced that Mississippi State University and partners will be awarded nearly $2 million of $20.5 million in grant awards to fund projects to accelerate job creation and encourage reshoring of advanced manufacturing jobs that have moved overseas. Led by the university's Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems Extension Center in Canton, the multi-partner MSU proposal outlines a "Make it in Mississippi" program to become one of the leading answers to the economic development challenge. David Shaw, MSU vice president for research and economic development, said the three-year effort will focus strongly on both returning jobs to the U.S. and keeping advanced manufacturing jobs in the state.
MSU gets grant to help with job creation, reshoring
The U.S. Department of Labor announced Tuesday that Mississippi State University and partners will be awarded nearly $2 million of $20.5 million in grant awards to fund projects to accelerate job creation and encourage reshoring of advanced manufacturing jobs that have moved overseas. Clay Walden, CAVS Extension director and principal investigator of the grant, said the program consists of key stakeholders working in partnership to fulfill distinct yet complementary scopes of work. In addition to the state's primary land grant university, program participants include selected community colleges, workforce investment boards, InnovateMississippi and the Mississippi Development Authority.
Confused on food plot management for deer? There's an app for that
Good deer hunters don't always make for good farmers. Many find themselves needing guidance on the ins and outs of food plot management. Now, Mississippi State University Deer Lab is offering an app for that. Bronson Strickland, a wildlife management specialist with the MSU Extension Service, said he wanted to give people easy access to research-based information while in the field or in the feed store looking at seed. Strickland said users can click on the type of deer food plot they want, such as a cool-season plot for the hunting season, and they will see information for reliable forages.
Mississippi State Study Shows Link Between Arts, Education Achievement
Effective classroom arts integration can reduce or eliminate educational achievement gaps for economically disadvantaged students, according to a Mississippi State University research report. In other words, when teachers reinforce academic concepts with the arts, students learn more and score higher on standardized tests. MSU's John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development generated the report, which evaluated the impacts of the Mississippi Whole Schools Initiative.
Government payments: Are they less important for farmers?
The new farm bill -- at whatever time it may finally become law -- will not only be slimmed down money-wise, but says John Anderson, it will also represent a rather significant sea change in the long history of farm legislation, the attitude of the American public and policymakers toward farm law, and the way farm programs are administered. And this could, in the years ahead, have an impact on agricultural research, trade promotion, and other smaller programs that have traditionally been lumped into omnibus farm bills in which the bulk of the spending was for commodity and nutrition titles. "The benefit profile of the current omnibus legislation is different from that of the past," Anderson said at the annual meeting of the Mississippi Agricultural Economics Association at Mississippi State University.
Cold weather on its way to region
Light frost has already alit in small pockets of Northeast Mississippi, and forecasters expect even more effects of cold in much of the region late this week. Gary Bachman, Mississippi State Extension horticulturist and host of "Southern Gardening," advises in an Extension publication that careful protection can help some warm-weather plants survive the first few freezes. With ground temperatures still several degrees higher, the warmth can be trapped around such plants. "When a freeze is imminent, cover in-ground plants with plastic sheets, cloths, boxes or something similar," Bachman advises.
Pumpkin pie all around! Growers see best year in decades
For Mississippi's pumpkin growers, this season has been spooky -- spooky good, that is. David Nagel, horticulturist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said 2013 has been the best year for pumpkins since he started working in the state about 25 years ago. Mississippi growers are producing more and larger pumpkins than their competitors in states to the north. Thomas Horgan, a research associate with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, said growers are always looking for high-yielding varieties with the most disease resistance.
Allen speaks to Civitan
Dr. Paul Allen, professor at MSU-Meridian and former Civitan member, talked about his recently released book, "Choose Stocks Wisely" and the amazing returns of his method of choosing which stock to invest in. His personal strategy is consistent, he believes, with good stewardship over God's resources.
Student's hearing continued until February
Starkville Police Chief David Lindley confirmed the aggravated DUI case against Sawyer Tomas Steede, 18, of Lucedale, was continued until Feb. 5. Steede was charged last month after the vehicle he was driving struck Kaleb Dwayne Barker, 18, also of Lucedale. Barker died Sept. 17 as a result of injuries he suffered at the McDonald's located near the Highway 12 and Spring Street intersection. Steede and Barker were both Mississippi State University students and were roommates prior to the accident.
Wallace hints at more economic development traction in Oktibbeha
Many officials predicted C Spire's $22 million investment would spur other local initiatives, but Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority President Jack Wallace told supervisors Monday that economic developers are in the process of trying to land the area's next big investment. Oktibbeha County's Link Representative, Joey Deason, previously told the Dispatch the entity is looking to construct a speculative building at the Starkville Industrial Park to lure potential developers. Wallace again reiterated those plans, tying the potential building to possible spin-off businesses looking to relocate near Yokohama Tire's manufacturing facility under construction in Clay County. While Starkville has successfully marketed itself as a high-tech job destination with ties to a major research institution, an increase in manufacturing would give employment opportunities to a broader segment of the community.
Starkville breaks monthly sales tax record
Data from the three Golden Triangle cities shows Starkville recorded its highest ever sales tax collection month while Columbus's collections were down slightly and West Point experienced a modest gain. Starkville collected $585,941.73 in non-beverage, non-food and hotel tax. That's $85,642.16 more than August 2012's $500,299.57 and clearly bests the previous all-time monthly collection record of 530,504.69 set in December 2012's by $55,437.04. Starkville's 2-percent collection in August was $147,215.80, the second highest monthly total experienced this year.
Bryant orders Blue Cross to reinstate 10 hospitals
Gov. Phil Bryant is ordering Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi to reinstate all 10 hospitals that it kicked out of its network, including Biloxi Regional Medical Center. Bryant acted Tuesday, one day after the insurer said it was reinstating four of Health Management Associates' 10 Mississippi hospitals. The governor says the order lasts until the Department of Insurance finishes investigating whether Blue Cross' insurance network can adequately service patients without the hospitals. Flowood-based Blue Cross, the state's largest private health insurer, has already sued Bryant in U.S. District Court in Jackson after he sent the company a letter Thursday saying he intended to issue the order. The lawsuit took personal aim at Bryant, criticizing his concern for access when he turned down a federal plan to expand Medicaid coverage for residents without health care and questioning whether he could be objective when his daughter is employed by the Butler Snow law firm that includes HMA lobbyist Paul Hurst.
Bryant intervenes against BlueCross
A day after BlueCross & BlueShield moved to restore Gilmore Memorial in Amory and three other hospitals to its network, Gov. Phil Bryant issued an executive order restoring all 10 HMA hospitals to the network for 60 days. "I had hoped the two parties could come to some resolution, but as governor, I cannot sit back and allow Mississippians' access to care to be threatened in violation of state law," Bryant said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. "It is my hope that a full investigation will ensure that no law has been broken as it relates to a patient's access to care and a provider's responsibility under state law." Chaney said his office will continue to work as the federal court considers the governor's order. "In the meantime we will continue to do what we have been doing which is to make sure the interests of all parties, especially patients, are protected," he said.
Bryant orders 10 HMA hospitals back into Blue Cross network
Gov. Phil Bryant on Tuesday issued an executive order temporarily reinstating Health Management Associates' 10 Mississippi-owned hospitals to Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi's provider network, marking the most significant development yet in the battle between the health care heavyweights. The insurer, meanwhile, says it will press ahead with a challenge in federal court of Bryant's standing to intervene in the dispute. BCBS contends the governor does not have the authority to force an insurer to add or reinstate hospitals to its network.
In three weeks, just 35 enroll in Mississippi insurance exchange
Three weeks after the federal health exchange launched, 35 people have enrolled for insurance coverage on Mississippi's online marketplace, Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said. Chaney got that figure from Magnolia Healthcare, one of two carriers on the state's federally run exchange. All 35 enrollees had selected plans offered by Magnolia, Chaney said. Humana, the other carrier, "wasn't sure they had added anybody," Chaney said. Humana spokesman Mitchell Lubitz would not confirm Chaney's assertion, saying the company was in a quiet period until third quarter earnings are released Nov. 6. The exchange, created under the Affordable Care Act, has had trouble from the jump. The low enrollment does not mesh with the interest federally funded navigators have encountered at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, said hospital spokesman Jack Mazurak.
Meet the Republicans Who Want to Be the Next Ted Cruz
Right now, hard-line conservatives would clone Ted Cruz if they could. But with 2014 around the corner, they might be able to do the next best thing. "To call me the next Ted Cruz," says Chris McDaniel, who announced last week that he would challenge Thad Cochran of Mississippi, the second-most-senior Republican in the Senate. "I would certainly consider that a compliment." McDaniel, who has been serving as a state senator since 2008, is exactly the type of candidate whom establishment Republicans have been worrying about. To McDaniel, the shutdown was not a mistake; the Republican leadership "lacks passion," and he's ready to come to D.C. to "do everything he can to put a stake in the heart of Obamacare."
The 7 Republican Senators Most Vulnerable to a Primary
Hard-line conservatives are rising out of the ashes of a weekslong government shutdown, emboldened by the possibility of adding to their ranks in the Senate next year --- whether by picking up Democrat-held seats or taking out Republican incumbents. Just two Republican senators have lost in primaries in the last two election cycles, but that's not stopping a growing number of intraparty challengers this cycle. Here are the seven Republican senators most vulnerable to a primary challenge, in order:... No 3. Thad Cochran, Mississippi -- This name could leap off the list by the end of this year, as Cochran hasn't even announced whether he'll seek re-election. His third-quarter report offered no evidence that he intends to run again, as he raised just $53,000. But the veteran appropriator would likely have no trouble turning on the fundraising engine.
Report: Progress on Pew farm policy recs gets an 'F'
Little to no progress has been made on the recommendations made in 2008 by the landmark Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, according to a progress report issued Tuesday by Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. In fact, if Bob Martin, who served as executive director of the Pew Commission, had to grade progress on its recommendations, "I would give an 'F,'" he told POLITICO Pro. The Pew Commission threw a significant amount of gasoline on the conversation about animal agriculture when it released its report five years ago. Based on a 2½-year examination, the commission warned that the concentration of farm animals in larger and larger numbers increases pathogen risks.
Elevance's biorefinery in Natchez given green light
Elevance Renewable Sciences announced early Wednesday plans for its world-scale biorefinery in Natchez now has a green light. Elevance committed in 2011 to bringing 165 permanent jobs to Adams County, but the company sought to first meet the benchmark of getting its first biorefinery in Gresick, Indonesia, into production before moving forward. The Indonesian facility began operations earlier this year. The work in Natchez aims to expand the company's production of its inherent renewable building blocks line in 2016, and the company has already invested $30 million in the Natchez site.
Hiccups hit tax system upgrade; Department of Revenue flooded with phone calls
More than 62,300 calls flooded the Mississippi Department of Revenue's switchboard last week after the department experienced website issues related to a new system for filing and paying sales and use taxes. DOR replaced the more than 40-year-old sales tax computer system with a new, integrated computer system on Oct. 7. As part of the upgrade, DOR replaced the online filing system for sales taxes (operated by an outside party) with a new online system, called Taxpayer Access Point. Since the launch of the new computer system, the agency has experienced some problems related to the changes.
Bringing innovation and entrepreneurship home at Ole Miss' Insight Park
The University of Mississippi's newest research facility, Insight Park, has become the hub of some of Oxford's best entrepreneurs, including Ole Miss undergraduates and alumni. Located by the Ole Miss soccer fields, the complex was built in 2012, promoting sustainability and mixed use space open to rent by Ole Miss community members and the public. Around 50 people currently work in the building, including 19 interns and 11 main tenants with two more moving into their space in the next month.
USM student arrested for child pornography
An FBI investigation that began as a result of a Tennessee sheriff's deputy performing an undercover investigation led to the arrest of a University of Southern Mississippi student Tuesday on child pornography charges. Miles Justin McNairy, 24, is held at the Forrest County Jail, and will have a detention hearing Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mike Parker to determine whether he will be eligible for release on bond pending trial. Federal agents found him Oct. 2 at USM, and he agreed to be interviewed and gave written consent for the forensic examination of his laptop, according to the affidavit. "The forensic review identified several videos of child pornography that (McNairy) admitted downloading from the peer-to-peer file-sharing tool 'Limewire,'" FBI Agent Cynthia Bobe wrote.
Delta State University president contends low tuition crucial
"For fiscal year 2014-15 (July 1, 2014-June 30, 2015), which is essentially the 2014-2015 academic year, Delta State University will not increase its tuition or fees," said DSU President Bill LaForge. "I have conferred with the chief executives of the state's other public universities, the commissioner of higher education, and my cabinet on campus, and I conclude that it is in the best interest of Delta State at this particular time to maintain our current level of tuition," said LaForge.
Person of the Day: Dr. Claude Brunson
Dr. Claude Brunson, senior adviser to the vice chancellor for external affairs at University of Mississippi Medical Center, is slated to become president-elect of the Mississippi State Medical Association. Brunson is the first African American to fill the position. He spoke about his new role as well as assorted medical issues at Koinonia Coffee House's Friday Forum last week. Originally from Auburn, Ala., Brunson, 55, became inspired to study medicine at a young age thanks to his grandmother.
Lobbying is Beth Clay's passion
Beth Clay, a Lauderdale County native who grew up, in her own words, 12 miles out in the woods from Collinsville, found herself as a youngster loving politics like her grandfather. But she didn't consider at that young age in becoming a lobbyist. "If you talked to the 50 or so lobbyists on capital hill in Jackson about how they came to be there, you would get 50 different paths," Clay told a group of Meridian Community College Foundation members at the annual President's Roundtable Luncheon Tuesday. "You don't take a college course for this because there aren't any. You just one day find yourself in this position and you go for it."
Meridian Community College Foundation Thanks Donors
Meridian Community College hosted a luncheon Tuesday to thank businesses and individuals for supporting its students. The event honors those that contribute financial donations to the Tuition Guarantee Program through the MCC Foundation. The program underwrites the cost of tuition for four semesters of study at MCC for any graduate of a Meridian or Lauderdale County high school, including home-schooled graduates. "They need to know that what they are doing is going for a purpose," said Donnie Smith, vice chairman of the MCC Foundation. "You get a lot of requests for charity giving every year, but you can see actually for what this goes for."
U. of Kentucky researchers tout effectiveness of free screenings for ovarian cancer
A 26-year research study at the University of Kentucky has found that annual screenings can detect ovarian cancer at an earlier stage than is possible with a clinical examination. So far, more than 241,000 free screening examinations have been provided by the UK Markey Cancer Center's Ovarian Screening Program. Screenings can be critical because ovarian cancer has no symptoms until it is well-advanced. First Lady Jane Beshear visited UK Tuesday to encourage more women to get the free screenings. "Often times, women put their families' needs before their own, which can cause easily detectable illnesses to go untreated and possibly cause severe or terminal health risks," Beshear said.
Bentley to speak Wednesday at U. of Alabama's Insurance Day
Gov. Robert Bentley is expected to announce the enactment of a key recommendation of his Affordable Homeowners Insurance Commission Wednesday morning in Tuscaloosa. Bentley will be the lead speaker at the University of Alabama's Insurance Day, a daylong conference at the Bryant Conference Center. The governor's press office said he will discuss challenges affecting the affordability and availability of comprehensive homeowners' insurance in Alabama in his speech and will give details of the recommendation that he will put in place. Other speakers at Insurance Day will include the insurance commissioners of Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia, among others.
Auburn Alumni Association honors Tim Cook, Pat Sullivan, Larry Benefield and John Brown
The Auburn Alumni Association has selected four Auburn University graduates as recipients of its highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award. They are: Tim Cook '82, CEO of Apple Inc.; Pat Sullivan '72, 1971 Heisman Trophy winner and current head football coach at Samford University; Larry Benefield '66, dean emeritus of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering; and John Brown '57, chair emeritus of Stryker Corp., one of the world's leading medical technology companies. They will be honored at a dinner and induction ceremony in March at the Auburn Marriott Opelika Hotel and Conference Center at Grand National.
Global hunger education tour to stop at U. of Tennessee
HungerU, a national tour of college campuses aimed at educating students about the blight of hunger, will arrive at the University of Tennessee's agriculture campus early next month. The tour is meant to help students and the public face the daunting task of feeding a growing global population -- an estimated 9 million people by 2050, said Doug Edlund, a spokesman with the UT Institute of Agriculture. Visitors also are invited to have one-on-one conversations about how the food and agriculture industries are working to solve the problem of how to meet the growing demand for safe and affordable food. The roving tour will also make a stop at the national Future Farmers of America convention in Louisville, Ky., the week before it comes to Knoxville.
LSU legacy: The Reveille takes on Huey Long
LSU senior Stanley Shlosman and his friends at The Reveille, LSU's student newspaper, were on the cusp of graduating in 1934 when they ran afoul of Louisiana's most powerful politician. The Louisiana State Seal was stamped on each Reveille editorial page, but if any doubts arose about the paper's loyalty, Huey P. Long, the former governor and, in 1934, a U.S. senator, was glad to clear up uncertainty. And that year, at Long's prompting, LSU President James Monroe Smith expelled Shlosman and six other Reveille writers and editors after they ran an anti-Long letter to the editor, then refused to accept faculty censorship. The students became known as the Reveille Seven.
Senator wants to scrap Tulane legislative scholarships
Amid new controversy surrounding the Tulane legislative scholarship program, a state senator from Baton Rouge said Tuesday he will propose legislation to scrap the program, which allows each of Louisiana's 144 lawmakers to award a one-year scholarship worth an estimated $43,150 to the private university each year. If that gambit fails, as state Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, expects it will, Claitor said he'll push for the scholarships to come with a requirement that recipients perform some form of public service in Louisiana after graduation. And if he can't get that passed, Claitor said he'll fight for more transparency around the program -- which dates to the 1880s, when the then-public University of Louisiana was privatized into Tulane.
U. of Georgia panel discusses impact of media on women's issues
Modern women grow up hearing they should have it all -- career and family -- yet the media often suggests that might not be possible. The Delta Sigma Theta and Delta Zeta sororities came together to present "50 Shades of Women" on Monday to discuss such topics as domestic violence and the power of female sexuality, but it primarily focused on the influence media has on societal expectations of women. One of the more controversial discussions arose from a commercial for the mature video game Grand Theft Auto. To the horror of the primarily female audience, the graphic trailer featured barely dressed women, prostitution and even rape scenes. The question that followed the video involved the implications of exposure to these video games at a young age. Surprising most of the audience, Miss UGA 2013 Jenna Jackson, a panelist, decided to play devil's advocate by admitting to playing the game.
Humans face off against zombies on UGA campus this week
Ever-increasing hordes of zombies are roaming the University of Georgia campus this week, all bent on eliminating the last remaining humans and increasing their zombie numbers. The humans are just trying to survive in this week's fifth "Humans vs. Zombies" game, or "HvZ" for short. College students by the hundreds of thousands began playing HvZ after it burst upon the scene at Goucher College in 2005, and there's been a weeklong HvZ game on the UGA campus for the past five semesters. One game drew about 1,800 UGA participants, said Joe Fernandez, a senior computer science major with about three and a half years of HvZ under his belt.
Fledgling U. of Florida spinoff secures $32 million deal, prospect for bigger payoff
A pharmaceutical company that earlier this year spun out of a University of Florida research lab has now secured a $32 million venture capital investment to go with an agreement that could be worth up to $300 million to sell to a major multinational pharmaceutical company. Sideris Pharmaceuticals announced the financing deal Tuesday. It was led by MPM Capital, a $2.6 billion venture firm based in Boston, with additional funding from Hatteras Venture Partners and Osage University Partners. As part of the financing, Sideris also has an agreement granting exclusive rights to Novartis Pharmaceuticals to acquire the company and its technology. Sideris is developing a treatment for iron overload from multiple blood transfusions with technology licensed from UF.
A&M's Peace Campus meant to build on previous venture by U.S. university
Texas A&M's Peace Campus in Israel has been billed as a unique way to ease tensions in the Middle East, but the branch campus will be built upon the foundation of another American university that had a similar goal. Texas A&M plans to acquire the Nazareth Academic Institute, the only university located in the city and the successor to the first American branch campus in Israel that sought to bring together Muslims and Jews through education. Texas A&M and Israeli officials are hopeful that Texas A&M, with better networking and financial backing, can have a greater impact. Gov. Rick Perry, A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp and top Israeli officials will gather in Jerusalem on Wednesday to sign an agreement that commits A&M and Israel to work together on the campus.
Texas A&M now trying to nail down logistics of Peace Campus in Israel
Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp said potentially more than $100,000,000 in privately raised funds will be needed to create a branch campus in Israel with the Texas-sized goal of soothing tensions in the Middle East. Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sharp were expected join with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Israeli Minister of Education Shai Piron and Avital Stein, director general for Israel's Council for Higher Education, early Wednesday morning in Jerusalem to sign an agreement to formalize the creation of Texas A&M University at Nazareth-Peace Campus.
Missouri governor says he will boost education; student aid also in line for hikes
During a meeting with academic leaders of Missouri's public colleges and universities Monday, Gov. Jay Nixon said he hopes to increase funding for education significantly in the fiscal year 2015 budget. "For several years we've had to make some tough choices, and so have you. Now, with our perfect triple-A rating intact and our economy picking up steam, we have a unique opportunity to invest the dividends of that responsible fiscal measurement in our students and institutions," Nixon said. Nixon said his 2015 budget proposal would increase funding for higher education substantially. "It's not certain yet, but increased funding would be a wonderful thing," University of Missouri Provost Brian Foster said. "We'll see how it plays out."
U. of Missouri wins training grant connected to modular reactors
While Ameren Missouri and Westinghouse Electric continue to wait for a multimillion-dollar federal grant to develop a new nuclear reactor design, the University of Missouri just won some cash to start training the workers needed to build them. The U.S. departments of Labor and Commerce announced Tuesday they had awarded MU $1.84 million to develop the supply chain and infrastructure needed to manufacture small modular reactors, or SMRs. The grant was one of 10 awarded as part of the administration's "Make it in America" initiative, which was announced during last year's campaign season as a $40 million push to encourage companies to invest more in domestic workforces.
Tuition Increases Slow Down, but There's More to College Affordability
After years of seeing tuition and fees at four-year public colleges rise rapidly, some observers probably believed the pattern of steep price increases was permanent. But the latest rise in average published price for in-state students at four-year public colleges -- 2.9 percent -- is the smallest in three decades, according to a new report from the College Board. For the 2013-14 academic year, that average sticker price rose to $8,893, up from $8,646 the year before, shows the annual "Trends in College Pricing" report, which, along with its companion, "Trends in Student Aid," was released on Wednesday.
Sustainable scholarship conference highlights the urgency to stay ahead of the curve
If basic market forces are reshaping higher education, common knowledge dictates incumbents will lose market share to newcomers. But based on the discussions at a conference on sustainable scholarship in New York on Tuesday, no one -- from faculty members to librarians -- intends to play the role of the incumbent. Disaggregation, unbundling and public-private partnerships were some of the many recurring themes during a daylong brainstorming session on innovative forms of teaching and learning -- themes that the almost 200 academic librarians, publishers and representatives of the private sector in attendance suggested could prevent their fields from becoming obsolete. Whether discussing blended learning or library use, most speakers touched on the same topic: big data.
Want Your Daughter To Be A Science Whiz? Soccer Might Help
Physical activity has a range of benefits for children, yet many schools have cut back on gym and recess. Now a British study finds that children who were most active at age 11 did better academically through the teenage years. Active girls did particularly well in science, while both boys and girls had better scores in English. This study doesn't prove that the increased exercise was what improved the children's test scores, but parents aren't off base in thinking that it could help.
EDITORIAL: Can McDaniel be the Obama of Mississippi?
The Sun Herald editorializes: "Haley Barbour has attributed Chris McDaniel's campaign for the U.S. Senate to 'the ambition of youth.' The former governor even acknowledged there may be a parallel between McDaniel challenging Thad Cochran and his own run against John C. Stennis decades ago. A fresher comparison could be made. McDaniel was in his mid-30s when he was elected to the Mississippi Senate. Barack Obama was in his mid-30s when he was elected to the Illinois Senate. McDaniel is making a run for the U.S. Senate while in his early 40s. Obama made a run for the U.S. Senate in his early 40s. It will be a while before we know how McDaniel's campaign turns out."
BRIAN PERRY: McDaniel attacks Cochran
Consultant and columnist Brian Perry writes: "State Sen. Chris McDaniel in Jones County on Thursday announced his candidacy as a Republican for U.S. Senate in 2014. Republican U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran has not said whether he will seek another term. If he does, he will face a primary challenge from McDaniel. McDaniel seeks to frame the campaign between himself, who opposes spending, and Cochran, the former Senate Appropriations Chairman who has funded billions of dollars of projects in Mississippi. ...I have little doubt McDaniel is sincere. Were he elected, he would tell Mississippi's mayors, supervisors, sheriffs, hospitals, schools, libraries, universities and road builders, 'no' -- he would not help them with funding. Nor would he have the ability to help if he wanted. Cochran has that ability and has proved it whenever Mississippi, or a small town like McDaniel's Ellisville, has been in need. A campaign against Cochran based on federal funding should be honest and courageous enough to tell Mississippi what it will lose as a result of change."
BOBBY HARRISON: Top pay tied to high expectations for superintendent
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "Carey Wright will become one of Mississippi's highest-paid state officials when she takes over the post of state superintendent of education next month. Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds and some university officials, including some university coaches, earn more than her $300,000 per year salary. And no doubt, they have difficult jobs. Winning in the powerhouse Southeastern Conference is tough. But winning college football games cannot be any more difficult nor important than improving the education standards in Mississippi."
GEOFF PENDER: Some GOP Sens. not invited to retreat; Senate floor should be really interesting in 2014
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender blogs: "The 2014 legislative session, particularly in the Senate, should be very interesting. Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves will be presiding while Republican Sen. Chris McDaniel, one could presume, will be picking up his microphone quite frequently on the floor as he runs for U.S. Senate. Add to that the possibility that Reeves himself might consider a U.S. Senate run if longtime incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran decides not to run. That could bring some wild times on the old Senate floor, and before the cameras outside the chamber. As he has done in the past, Reeves is having some sort of pre-session summit/retreat with some of his top lieutenants, committee chairmen. ...Noteably not on the guest list: members of the Senate Conservative Coalition, four of whom are committee chairmen..."
SID SALTER: Barbour talks energy, says he no longer seeks government roles
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "Former Republican Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour was in Starkville this week to address one of the state's largest Rotary Clubs and the topic of his remarks -- despite significant and dramatic recent national and state political developments -- were almost exclusively about energy. For the record, Barbour's energy policy as an ex-governor is no different than it was as governor. 'I'm for more abundant, affordable American energy,' said Barbour, adding that President Barack Obama's administration fails to promote that goal. 'The Obama administration's policy is to raise energy prices so people will use less of it.' ...After Barbour's energy speech, civic club members tossed him questions regarding the government shutdown and about continued speculation regarding his political future -- both in the context of a possible U.S. Senate bid if current GOP U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran decides not to seek re-election and a possible 2016 GOP presidential bid."

Mullen doesn't see SEC results as 'upsets'
Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen isn't buying that last weekend should be dubbed "Upset Saturday in the Southeastern Conference," but he acknowledges his players might do that. "In this league, you have to play your 'A' game, and it's a pretty simple deal," Mullen said Monday when he met with the media in the Leo Seal Family Football Complex. "If you come in and play sloppy, you go turn the ball over a bunch in the first half, it doesn't matter who you're playing, you're not going to win the game." Mullen doesn't believe his 18- to 22-year-old players share the same perspective.
Lewis becomes Mississippi State's top receiver
Jameon Lewis is easy to miss in a huddle. At 5-foot-9 and 195 pounds, the junior is the smallest player on the Mississippi State offense. But once the ball snaps, he becomes pretty noticeable. "I'm very confident. I've been here for a while. I know the offense inside and out," Lewis said. "Any time they call a play and I know it's coming to me, I'll be excited and I know I'm going to make a play." The offense called Lewis' number more than ever the last two games and the wide receiver responded. Against LSU and Bowling Green, Mississippi State's quarterbacks targeted Lewis 15 times. He finished with 11 catches for 145 yards. Through the first four games of the season, MSU threw at Lewis 25 times and he caught 12 passes for 248 yards.
Bulldogs' Autry aims to finish strong
There will be a bit of a teacher vs. apprentice battle Thursday night as Mississippi State hosts Kentucky. MSU senior Denico Autry and Wildcat junior Za'Darius Smith were teammates on East Mississippi Community College's 2011 national championship squad. Autry was the headliner at defensive end for the Lions, notching 81 tackles, 11 sacks and 41 quarterback hurries that season with Smith as his understudy. Autry is unsure how the introduction with his former teammate will go when the two meet again but is proud of his accomplishments this season. "I'm just going to congratulate him and I hope he congratulates me," Autry said.
Lewis making progress for Mississippi State at receiver
Jameon Lewis' media guide biography doesn't list a major. It may as well say Lewis is going for a bachelor's degree in wide receiver because he has taken significant steps in three seasons to mastering the position, including learning where to go, how to get open, and when to get open. "I think he takes more of that in now than in the past," Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. "Before he got here, he really never had to think about those types of things. He just went out there and played."
Mississippi State is Kentucky's first unranked opponent in more than a month
Facing an unranked opponent for a change doesn't necessarily mean that Kentucky has it easier. But after four straight losses to ranked opponents, including a 48-7 drubbing by No. 1 Alabama 10 days ago, the Wildcats might find Mississippi State a more manageable opponent. Kentucky (1-5, 0-3 Southeastern Conference) returns from a bye to face the Bulldogs (3-3, 0-2) on Thursday night in Starkville. Wildcats coach Mark Stoops considers this matchup just as challenging because both schools are pursuing their first league victories.
Uniform switcheroo trending at Mississippi State practice
David Turner held a film session with Mississippi State's defensive line last week and saw something he didn't like. The defensive line coach began barking about a missed assignment, but the number on the screen didn't match culprit in the room. After Wednesday's practice, players left the fields behind the football complex wearing their teammates' jerseys. It began with the linebackers -- Benardrick McKinney and Richie Brown -- and continued to the defensive line -- Preston Smith and Nelson Adams -- and even made its way to the offense where Josh Robinson and Derrick Milton flipped numbers. "Anyone want to talk to Josh Robinson? Josh Robinson right here," said Robinson pointing to Milton as he walked by the group of media.
Cox learning risk-reward of playing at Mississippi State
Defensive back Justin Cox has learned the difference between being disciplined and reckless isn't clear in his first six games with the Mississippi State football team. The 6-foot-2 cornerback, who was a former standout at West Point High School, had to learn a new position after floating from cornerback to safety in two seasons at East Mississippi Community College. Cox made 11 interceptions and had 19 pass breakups and won a national championship in his two seasons at EMCC and went from an unknown high school talent to a player who re-committed to MSU over the likes of the Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, and Tennessee.
Early Exits an Issue at College Football Games
The University of Alabama is cracking down on students who leave football games before they're over. UA officials say those seats could go to others who really want to be there. Mississippi State University Athletic Director Scott Stricklin says early exits aren't an issue at Davis-Wade Stadium. "Our student section has been at or near capacity for every home game we've had. Our students are great and they provide us great support. We've got three home games left starting Thursday night against Kentucky. We're going to have a great student crowd. We really appreciate all the support they give us," says Stricklin.
Bulldogs' Woodruff has positive first bullpen session
All signs were positive from Brandon Woodruff's first pitching session of the fall to live batters. The junior right-hander threw 25 pitches (two- and four-seam fastballs and changeups) to veteran Mississippi State batters, including senior first baseman Wes Rea, in a simulated inning before the scheduled intra-squad scrimmage. "It felt good," Woodruff said Tuesday. "I finally got a (radar) gun in my bullpen, and today I wanted (the radar gun) on me there. It just felt loose and felt it was coming out really good." Radar guns recorded Woodruff's fastball at 91-93 mph. He also hit 96 and registered 80-84 mph on his changeup. Woodruff has worked with MSU associate head coach/pitching coach Butch Thompson for the past two weeks in the bullpen.
Head games: Mississippi trails rest in concussion awareness
A 2012 study by the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine estimated that as many as 3.8 million concussions occur nationally each year. More troubling, the study also revealed that as many as 50 percent go unreported. It's why 49 states have passed some sort of concussion legislation -- most of which are geared toward educating coaches, parents and players on early detection, future prevention and the adverse side effects of what the AMSSM refers to as a "mildly traumatic brain injury." The lone holdout? Mississippi. “Bottom line is NFL and college players are better protected through rules and regulations than our own high school kids,” said Dr. Lee Voulters, a neurologist and chairman of the Mississippi State Medical Association board of trustees.
Jackson State to pursue legal action against Grambling, others after forfeit
Grambling State's player mutiny last week captured the attention of media outlets and sports fans nationally. Add Jackson State's lawyers to that list. Jackson State says it took a massive financial hit after Saturday's homecoming game was canceled because Grambling forfeited when players refused to play. Now, Jackson State leaders plan to take legal action against Grambling State and "others"to recoup the losses, a JSU spokesman said Tuesday night in a message to alumni and school supporters. "The JSU family was damaged. Our Homecoming game draws tens of thousands of fans. The university intends to use litigation to be made whole for our direct and indirect financial losses," Eric Stringfellow, executive director of Jackson State University Communications, wrote.
Alabama reviewing mass exodus of students from Bryant-Denny Stadium, could nix block seating
Angry Alabama football fans took to Twitter Saturday night as they watched the student section in Bryant-Denny Stadium empty out for another game, and it seems fans aren't the only people taking notice. According to a report in The Crimson White, SGA President Jimmy Taylor emailed leaders of student organizations with block seating before the game, warning them to stay in their seats or else. On Monday, a university spokeswoman referred any questions about block seating to Taylor, whose press secretary declined to answer any specific questions about which administrators are involved. Empty student seats are not unique to the 2013 football season.

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