Friday, January 31, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Contributions from Hosemann roast to fund journalism scholarships
When Miami played Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., in 1988, Delbert Hosemann and his family were there. There was a problem: There wasn't a ticket for Hosemann's youngest son, Mark. There was also a solution. "It was raining that day, so my dad put me underneath a poncho, and I got in the game," Mark Hosemann said Thursday night at the Mississippi Press Association Education Foundation's 23rd annual celebrity roast. Mark Hosemann's story about being smuggled into what was then called the game of the century at his dad's alma mater was one of several that poked (mostly) good-natured fun at Hosemann, now Mississippi's secretary of state and the subject of the roast. "Delbert has courageously fought those who would stuff the ballot box with the votes of the deceased," said MSU's director of public affairs, Sid Salter, referring to Republican Hosemann's efforts to implement voter ID laws in Mississippi. "Wait, that's not it. Delbert has courageously fought those would stuff the ballot box with the votes of deceased Democrats."
Conference Seeks to Blend Creativity into Economy
2014 is being called "The Year of the Creative Economy" in Mississippi and some people are trying to take advantage of that. Numerous individuals and organizations attended a Just Create It conference at the MSU Riley Center Thursday. The message is that this method can be used to draw in tourism and economic value to a city. In fact, the Mississippi Development Authority chose to host the event at the MSU Riley Center because of its significant value to the city of Meridian.
Burglary ring bust in Starkville
The Starkville Police Department arrested three Mississippi men on two charges of residential burglary Wednesday. Detectives and the Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Department said Tymario Joiner, 19, Carlton Raynor, 22, and Deven Jones, 22, were arrested for a series of auto and residential burglaries that occurred across the county in January. Officers said more charges are expected as law enforcement continues the investigation.
Cold winter has been hard on Southern crawfish farmers
People planning Super Bowl crawfish boils may be out of luck. Farmers say cold has kept crawfish scarce all winter, and now many ponds are iced over. The prolonged cold also means crawfish aren't eating and are likely to be smaller than normal at the peak of crawfish season, said farmer David Savoy. People may have to order ahead even at the peak of the season, said Craig Lutz, an LSU AgCenter professor and aquaculture specialist. "I think it's fair to say that when we get to Mardi Gras and we get to Easter, we're definitely going to be behind what we would be in a normal season. There'll still be crawfish available. But I think people are going to have to plan a lot better to make sure they have crawfish on those weekends when they want them," he said Wednesday.
Mississippi K-12 teachers rank higher for quality
Mississippi gets a C rating for K-12 teacher quality, up from a D-plus two years ago, the latest ranking of the National Council on Teacher Quality says. Compiled every other year, the council's 2013 State Teacher Policy Yearbook reviews state laws, rules and regulations that govern the teaching profession and measure state progress against 31 policy goals. The goals help states form a comprehensive framework in support of preparing, retaining and rewarding effective teachers. Mississippi appears to be steadily improving, the council said.
Lawmakers target elected school chiefs
School districts with elected superintendents would vote this November on whether to switch to an appointed superintendent under legislation passed Thursday by the House Education Committee. The effort is the latest attempt to change the governance structure of Mississippi's public school districts. The state currently has a hodgepodge, but in general most municipal districts have an appointed school board and superintendent and most county systems have elected superintendents and school boards. In addition to passing legislation to have voters decide whether they want to switch from an elected to an appointed superintendent, the Education Committee also approved a bill to make all school board members elected by 2018.
'Any willing provider' bill survives
The House Insurance Committee passed "any willing provider" legislation on a 7-6 vote Thursday after about 45 minutes of debate in a committee room packed with doctors and medical industry lobbyists. The bill would essentially allow any health care provider who agrees to a health insurance company's terms to be included in the carrier's network. Current law allows insurance companies to exclude providers even if they're willing to meet the carrier's terms. The bill would not regulate carriers' requirements for doctors in their networks and would not regulate what providers charge for certain services. A couple of Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the bill.
Wright vote may be Common Core debate
Consideration of the nomination of Carey Wright as state superintendent of education could present the Senate Conservative Coalition an opportunity to debate the Common Core academic standards on the Senate floor. The 10-member coalition has made blocking Common Core in Mississippi one of its priorities during the 2014 legislative session. But it's unlikely that legislation supported by the group to slow or halt the enactment of Common Core will make it out of committee. The confirmation of Wright, a Common Core proponent, at some point this session will be debated before the full Senate. "I know she is a staunch Common Core supporter," said Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula, a key coalition member. "...Maybe (the Wright confirmation vote) is an opportunity to draw a line in the sand."
Education Committee approves state superintendent nomination
The Senate Education Committee on Thursday approved Carey Wright as superintendent of education, and her confirmation now heads to the full Senate. The committee voted 14-1 to confirm after lawmakers questioned Wright about her goals for Mississippi's public school system. Her confirmation by the full Senate is expected as early as Friday, with only a handful of conservative Republicans expected to vote against her over her support of Common Core standards. Wright told the committee her goals include strengthening early childhood education -- including a push for mandatory kindergarten -- and increasing professional development of teachers and principals, particularly in literacy. She said she wants the state to take tighter control of failing school districts.
Committee endorses Wright as chief
Mississippi Superintendent of Education Carey Wright is one step closer to being confirmed to her post. The Senate Education Committee voted 14-1 Thursday in favor of Wright, who was hired by the state Board of Education last year to lead Mississippi schools. The nomination goes to the full Senate for a vote later. Sen. Angela Hill, a Picayune Republican, was the only committee member who voted against Wright. Hill opposes state-funded preschool and Mississippi's embrace of Common Core standards.
Senate committee sidelines bill to limit failing schools' activities
A bill that would limit failing Mississippi schools' participation in sports and other extracurricular activities failed in a committee vote Thursday but may come up again. Senate Bill 2576, authored by Senate Education Chairman Gray Tollison, failed on a tied, 6-6, vote in his committee. He said he might bring it back up or it could be added to other legislation as an amendment. "We've got to get the focus back on academics in these schools," Tollison said. "We've been putting off holding schools accountable for a long time."
Mississippi lawmakers advance criminal justice changes
Mississippi lawmakers are moving forward with bills designed to make the criminal justice system more efficient and less expensive. Among other things, House Bill 585 and Senate Bill 2784 say anyone convicted of a violent offense would be required to serve at least 50 percent of a sentence, and anyone convicted of a nonviolent offense would have to serve at least 25 percent. House Judiciary B Committee Chairman Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, calls these "true minimums." He said judges often give long sentences now because of uncertainty about how long an inmate will stay in prison. Judges have complained that crime victims are sometimes upset to learn an inmate has been released early.
'Darwin Day' bill rips creationism
Three House Democrats have proposed a resolution that criticizes the teaching of creationism and the denial of man-made global warming as anti-science. The resolution from Reps. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), Jim Himes (D-Conn.) and Mike Honda (D-Calif.), H.Res. 467, proposes the designation of Feb. 12 as "Darwin Day" to recognize Charles Darwin's contributions to science. The resolution says Darwin's theory of evolution through natural selection "provides humanity with a logical and intellectually compelling explanation for the diversity of life on Earth." It also says teachings to the contrary go against established science. The resolution also takes a shot at global warming skeptics.
Beer Drone Can Buzz The Skies No More, FAA Says
Lakemaid Beer is brewed in Stevens Point, Wis., and distributed to several states in the region. But it was a very local delivery that put the company out of favor with the Federal Aviation Administration. The Minnesota-based company is receiving a flood of support and condolences after the FAA ruled that its beer delivery drone, which had only recently taken flight, had to be shut down. "We were a little surprised at the FAA interest in this since we thought we were operating under the 400-foot limit," Supple says via email. He adds that the beer-makers "figured a vast frozen lake was a lot safer place than [what] Amazon was showing on 60 Minutes."
NCS4 hosts National Intercollegiate Safety and Security Summit
The National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) held a National Intercollegiate Athletics Safety and Security Summit Tuesday through Thursday at the University of Southern Mississippi. Sport and security officials from several universities, colleges, as well as high-profile security entities attended the three day event held at the Trent Lott Center. The summit addressed the designated major safety and security issues through input from several athletic departments, bowl administrators, law enforcement and first responders.
USM brings flavor of Delta blues to The Mary C. in Ocean Springs tonight
The USM Gulf Park campus invites Coast music lovers to "Bringing the Delta to the Gulf Coast," a lecture, musical-culinary offering and jam session that will offer a glimpse Delta blues and some tastes of Delta cuisine, from 6 to 7:30 tonight. The event will be at The Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center, 1600 Government St., Ocean Springs, where Robert Terrell, the director of entertainment from the B.B. King Museum, will discuss the history of the Delta blues. A short performance by 81-year-old Mississippi blues man Leo "Bud" Welch will follow. "This is just a way to connect the audience members to the Delta and to highlight its rich history and culture," said USM librarian Shugana Williams.
Khayat recounts life lessons learned
Jobe Auditorium had a full house on Wednesday night to listen to Dr. Robert C. Khayat, who served as chancellor of the University of Mississippi from 1995 to 2009. Delta State University President Bill LaForge described one of his first encounters with Khayat in his introduction and said, "I was a lowly first year student, working as a work study student and I was loaned by my supervisor to Robert Khayat. I was loaned to him because he was moving his offices from one end of the law school building to the other but what happened after that describes Robert Khayat and the way he is to a T. I didn't work by myself that afternoon moving all of his books -- we did it together and he taught me some valuable lessons that very day dealing with people."
Preservation group puts 11 historical buildings at U. of Kentucky on endangered list
Eleven buildings on the University of Kentucky's rapidly changing campus are the most endangered historic structures in Central Kentucky, the Blue Grass Trust announced Thursday. The preservation group's announcement came just 24 hours before the UK Board of Trustees is expected to approve the demolition of three of the buildings on the list --- Jewell and Holmes Halls and Hamilton House -- to make way for two new residence halls on the corner of Limestone and Avenue of Champions.
U. of Kentucky trustees expected to approve two new dorms on Limestone
The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees is expected to vote Friday afternoon on the next step of an ambitious campus housing plan -- building two large residence halls on the corner of South Limestone and Avenue of Champions that will house more than 1,100 students. Five buildings on that corner will be razed to make room for the new dorms. UK President Eli Capilouto made new housing one of his top priorities after arriving on campus in 2011, and he eventually hopes to have 9,000 new or renovated beds on campus at a cost of nearly $500 million. Studies have consistently shown that students involved in campus life have better retention and graduation rates.
Horn-blowing UGA student arrested on drug charges
A University of Georgia student was arrested on drug charges Wednesday afternoon after he caught an officer's attention by blowing his Jeep's horn in an aggressive manner, Athens-Clarke County police said. The officer was stopped for a red light at the intersection of Oak and Poplar streets at about 3:30 p.m. when 20-year-old Joshua Mahram "laid" on his vehicle's horn immediately when the light turned green, according to police. Upon stopping the Jeep, the officer smelled a strong odor of marijuana inside, police said.
Aging faculty fitness buffs upset over Living Well closing at U. of Florida
Originally dubbed The Faculty 100, the Living Well Fitness Center at the University of Florida, which occupies a 7,500-square-foot space that was once home to the Gators football team training table, has been a gritty tradition and cultural cornerstone for hundreds of faculty and staff since its creation in 1983. In June, the 30-year-old cultural institution known as Living Well will cease to exist. Living Well has been plagued by several years of budget overruns caused by dropping revenue due to declining membership. It's been targeted for extinction twice since 2009 and saved at the last minute. Living Well has finally hit the wall. "Nobody wants to close Living Well. Everyone is sympathetic," said Mike Reid, dean of the College of Health and Human Performance since last July. "But it's a stupid waste of money when there are so many other things we can do with that money."
World's educators come to Nashville to learn
As the world looks to Russia for the Winter Olympics, a Russian educator -- along with 10 other international scholars -- has come to Nashville to learn about the American education system and share his own culture with local students. Andrey Almakaev's biggest concern, shared by many of his colleagues, is the poor quality of education in their respective countries. "Educational partnerships are very important right now," said Almakaev, an educational entrepreneur. The international scholars are spending a year at Vanderbilt University's Peabody College, widely considered one of the nation's best schools of education, as part of a Fulbright Exchange program. The Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows hail from a diverse spectrum of countries, according to Nancy DiNunzio, the program director at Vanderbilt.
Texas A&M University System Board of Regents approve tuition hike
The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents unanimously approved a tuition and fee increase for its flagship campus over the objections of a few students who drove 150 miles to lobby against the change. The regents unanimously approved the changes at a board meeting held here on Thursday. The vote marks the first tuition increase approved by the board since 2009. Freshmen entering Texas A&M next fall will see the largest average tuition and fee increase of about 6 percent and current students will see smaller increases. The overhaul includes two major changes: replacing A&M's unwieldy and under-monitored 7,200 instructional enhancement fees with designated tuition and guaranteeing a flat four-year tuition rate as mandated by House Bill 29.
No Laughing Matter: President's Quip About Art History Pricks Some Ears
Art history caught some unwelcome attention from President Obama in a speech on Thursday emphasizing the need for job training. To reinforce his point that manufacturing jobs pay off, Mr. Obama said that young people who train for them could outearn art-history majors. The remark drew laughter from the president's audience in Wisconsin. But some in higher education felt slighted, even though Mr. Obama quickly added in his speech that there is "nothing wrong with an art-history degree" (trying to ward off "a bunch of emails").
Obama becomes latest politician to criticize a liberal arts discipline
President Obama found common ground with Republican politicians Thursday -- in arguing that some liberal arts degrees offer poor preparation for a job. Obama took on art history, following in the footsteps of Republicans who have in recent years questioned the value of degrees in anthropology, English, philosophy and women's studies. Carol Geary Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, said via email that she found the president's rhetoric disappointing. "In recent years, we've sunk into a 'what's in it for me' approach to learning, making career earnings the litmus test both for college and for different majors," she said.

No. 3 Florida pulls away from Mississippi State
Casey Prather scored 16 points, Patric Young added 12 and No. 3 Florida beat Mississippi State 62-51 Thursday night for its 12th straight win. The Gators (18-2, 7-0 Southeastern Conference) had a slow start on offense, but made up for it with suffocating defense. It was the 12th time this season Florida held an opponent to 60 points or fewer. Florida's Michael Frazier II had just nine points, but his three 3-pointers helped the Gators keep a comfortable lead throughout most of the second half. Mississippi State (13-7, 3-4) lost for the first time at home during conference play.

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