Tuesday, February 11, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
MSU, MUW cancel Tuesday classes citing winter weather forecast
Some Mississippi universities are canceling classes for Tuesday in anticipation of extreme wintry weather conditions in central Mississippi. Mississippi State University and Mississippi University for Women both announced on Monday that their campuses will be closed, citing weather conditions that could affect driving conditions. "The National Weather Service is predicting significant ice accumulations on the roads and surfaces," a release from MSU stated. "Please do not attempt to drive in these conditions except in an emergency. Also, please do not travel to campus."
Golden Triangle universities, schools closed Tuesday
In anticipation of potential ice, freezing rain and snow, several schools and universities in the Golden Triangle area have announced they will be closed Tuesday. The National Weather Service in Jackson has issued a winter storm warning that includes Lowndes, Oktibbeha and Clay counties. School closings for Tuesday include Mississippi State University, Mississippi University for Women and East Mississippi Community College.
Mississippi State campus closed Tuesday
Officials at Mississippi State University say the campus will be closed Tuesday in anticipation of a winter storm. University officials tell WCBI-TV that non-essential employees should not report to work. A decision on whether the campus will reopen on Wednesday is expected to be made Tuesday afternoon.
'Virtual concessions': SportSnax roars out of gate, lands SEC clients
Business partners Eric Hill and Daniel Payne are seasoned entrepreneurs, having formed several successful businesses, two while still in high school. However, their current endeavor -- SportSnax, a service offering smartphone-ordered, seat-delivered concessions during sporting events -- is their most significant to date. Just last week, SportSnax landed the University of Alabama, its second Southeastern Conference client. And, the company was on the cusp of a third contract at press time. In early 2013, SportSnax officially formed, and the company quickly landed Mississippi State University. SportSnax launched its service -- dubbed DawgSnax in Starkville -- in the spring of that year at Dudy Noble Field baseball games. Working in conjunction with MSU's foodservice provider Aramark, the SportSnax service proved successful, with average delivery time less than five minutes after ordering.
Thanks to Thad Cochran, U.S. catfish producers get long awaited win
An eight-year struggle to require foreign and domestically produced catfish to undergo the same health safety inspections has ended with the inspection requirement surviving as part of the Farm Bill extension approved last week. But the question is whether enacting the inspection rule will come too late to save Mississippi catfish farming. Even the measure's principal architect, Mississippi's Sen. Thad Cochran, has doubts on how quickly the Food Safety and Inspection Service within the Department of Agriculture will move to take over inspection duties from the Food and Drug Administration. In recent years, Cochran and congressional allies trying to salvage the South's once-promising catfish farming industry have had little, if any, support from other agricultural sectors.
Justice overhaul clears House
Changes to the criminal system, designed to hold down exploding prison costs while ensuring tougher sentences for violent offenders and drug traffickers, passed the House on Monday 106-7. The comprehensive proposal, based on recommendations made by a Criminal Justice Task Force last year, would save about $266 million over a 10-year period, Judiciary B Chair Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, told members of the House. The bill has the backing of Gov. Phil Bryant, the majority Republican leadership of the Legislature and most members of the minority Democratic Party.
Potential cost of tourism tax rebates balloons
Developers are rushing to stake a claim to Mississippi's tourism tax development incentives, even as lawmakers must decide whether to extend the tax credits. The Mississippi Development Agency has now awarded up to $155 million in potential subsidies for three malls since the sales tax rebate program was widened last year to include "cultural retail attractions." Under the terms of the law, which was expanded to cover shopping centers in 2013, the state will return 80 percent of sales taxes collected at a development over 10 years, until the total collected reaches 30 percent of the construction price. Many economists voice doubts about subsidizing retail development.
Mississippi House moves forward with money for clinics with care for low-income patients
The Republican-led Mississippi House voted Monday to give $4.8 million of state money to health clinics that provide primary care for low-income patients, but Democrats criticized the proposal as a minuscule effort compared to the federal dollars Mississippi could collect by expanding Medicaid. House Bill 413 is supported by Republican Gov. Phil Bryant. It goes to the Senate, where prospects are uncertain. Medicaid expansion is an option under the health overhaul that President Barack Obama signed into law. Bryant and other top Republicans say they oppose putting more people on the federal-state health insurance program because they don't trust promises of federal funding and they don't want to increase people's dependence on government programs.
Holland goes home, Wilemon still in hospital
One Northeast Mississippi legislator has been discharged from the hospital while another is still admitted. Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, is at his home after after being discharged this past weekend from University Medical Center in Jackson, where he was admitted for more than two weeks after gallbladder surgery. Sen. J.P. Wilemon, D-Belmont, is still at University Medical Center, also recovering from gallbladder surgery. Sen. Gary Jackson, R-French Camp, said Wilemon had to undergo a third procedure Monday, but predicted he would be discharged from the hospital later this week. Rep. Bobby Moak, D-Bogue Chitto, said while Holland has been discharged, it may be March before he is able to return to participate in the 2014 legislative session.
Energy companies spar over state Senate bill, control of Mississippi pipeline
The head of a family with significant mineral rights holdings in the state said a bill before the state Senate could make his family, and the state, a lot of money. Bruce Monroe of Brandon-based Denkmann Associates, an oil royalty trading company, has been arguing with Denbury, a Texas-based energy company, over access to a carbon dioxide pipeline. Now, it wants to settle that dispute in the state's Public Service Commission. Monroe, who flew into Gulfport as part of a press tour across the state Monday, said Denbury repeatedly used eminent domain to obtain property for the pipeline, claiming it would be for the benefit of the public. Greg Schnake, Denbury's executive vice president for governmental relations, disputes most of Monroe's claims.
Obamacare tweaked again: Medium-sized businesses given more time
Medium-sized businesses -- those with from 50 to 99 full-time employees -- will have an extra year to provide health coverage for their employees, in the latest change by the Obama administration to the Affordable Care Act. Such businesses will still have to report on how many of their workers have coverage, but won't have to provide the coverage themselves until 2016 or pay a penalty. Larger businesses -- those with 100 or more full-time employees -- also got a break in the new regulations issued Monday by the Treasury Department. Congressional Republicans responded quickly with dismay over the latest changes to the ACA, furthering their argument that President Obama can't be trusted to follow laws as passed.
Sophisticated Spy Tool 'The Mask' Rages Undetected for 7 Years
Researchers have uncovered a sophisticated cyber spying operation that has been alive since at least 2007 and uses techniques and code that surpass any nation-state spyware previously spotted in the wild. The attack, dubbed "The Mask" by the researchers at Kaspersky Lab in Russia who discovered it, targeted government agencies and diplomatic offices and embassies, before it was dismantled last month. It also targeted companies in the oil, gas and energy industries as well as research organizations and activists. "They are absolutely an elite APT [Advanced Persistent Threat] group; they are one of the best that I have seen," Costin Raiu, director of Kaspersky's Global Research and Analysis Team said at a conference on Monday.
Drone use highlights questions for journalists
As police responded to a deadly car crash, they noticed an increasingly familiar sight: a remote-controlled aircraft, equipped with a video camera, hovering over the wreckage. The Federal Aviation Administration has opened an investigation of the drone, which was used by an on-call employee for a Connecticut television station. The FAA is developing new rules as the technology makes drones far more versatile, but for now operators can run afoul of regulations by using them for commercial purposes, including journalism. The case of the Connecticut crash, in which the victim's body was left hanging out of a mangled car, highlights some of the safety, privacy and ethical issues that journalists will wrestle with as interest grows in using drones for newsgathering.
Seminar for high school students and parents to focus on admissions process
Mississippi University for Women is hosting a free seminar for high schools students, their parents and others to learn about the college admissions process. The Columbus/MUW branch of the American Association of University Women is teaming up with The Princeton Review to offer the seminar titled "Getting in to College" Feb. 27. "The W Admissions team is excited about hosting an event like this on our campus," said Shelley Moss, director of admissions at The W.
USM honors those who helped with tornado recovery
It was not a somber occasion. There was no eulogy given for the devastated campus-front landscape. "Taps" was not played for the Ogletree House. Instead, University of Southern Mississippi officials remembered the one-year anniversary of the 2013 tornado by honoring the folks who helped the school recover from the devastation. Those folks ranged from university police officers to physical plant workers. All were given a chance to stand and be recognized Monday morning. "We may face challenges, but we have the resilience and ability, intellectually and physically, to overcome our circumstances and keep moving to the top," said President Rodney Bennett during the ceremony at Bennett Auditorium.
Tuscaloosa-area schools, universities close Tuesday as city braces for another winter storm
Area schools and colleges are closed Tuesday, and a state of emergency has been declared across Alabama as the second winter storm in two weeks hits the state. "Unfortunately, we're looking at a mess of a weather scenario," said Matt Anderson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Birmingham. The University of Alabama, Stillman College and Shelton State Community College canceled classes for Tuesday and told all non-essential employees to stay home. UA will announce a decision about classes and operations for Wednesday via email, social media and its website. UA could resume normal operations with about a two-hour notice to students and employees if weather conditions improve and the campus has power Tuesday and Wednesday.
Auburn gains no new information on alleged sexual assault
Auburn University's investigation of a sexual assault report that was announced on Friday has produced no new information and will not likely be investigated further, a school spokeswoman said Monday. The university announced on Friday that a sexual assault had been reported. A "third party" claimed that a woman was sexually assaulted in early January at a fraternity house, the university said in a statement. Susan McCallister, associate director of public safety, information and education for the Auburn University Office of Public Safety and Security, said an investigation would not be continued because little information was available on the incident.
Democrats criticize Scott over ruling that prohibits early voting at U. of Florida's Reitz Union
State Democrats in Florida are criticizing Republican Gov. Rick Scott over state officials' determination that early voting is not allowed at the J. Wayne Reitz Union at the University of Florida or, more broadly, on college campuses. In a Jan. 17 opinion, the Division of Elections stated that state lawmakers specifically excluded educational facilities when they expanded the allowable locations for early voting in 2013. Lauren Nickoloff, president of UF's chapter of College Democrats, said the group provided transportation for early voting downtown in the national election, but it does not have the resources to do that for city elections. She called the denial for early voting at the union discriminatory against students.
Work with Peace Corps and change your life, director says in Gainesville
A two-year commitment to service can turn into a lifetime's worth of stories that not even the pictures can fully capture. That was the message Carrie Hessler-Radelet, Peace Corps acting director, delivered Monday during a visit to the University of Florida to speak to students about how the Peace Corps can enhance their lives and future careers. "As a Peace Corps volunteer, you never really know what your impact is going to be," she said. "It is a life-changing experience for both you and your community. Most volunteers will say they got more than they gave, but every single one of us gave more than we realize." Hessler-Radelet, who comes from four generations of Peace Corps volunteers, said UF has been one of the organization's most valued partners
UGA researchers create 'brain map' to be used in Alzheimer's diagnoses, treatments
A map of the human brain being developed at the University of Georgia might soon help in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Researchers at UGA currently are working on a project in partnership with Duke University Medical Center and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to compare scans of brains exhibiting normal brain function to scans of brains of patients diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, a condition characterized by declined memory or thinking ability. Researchers hope the comparisons will lead to new clues as to how much of a diseased brain is disrupted by MCI and how these different levels of disruption affect cognition.
Texas A&M interim president considering changes to infrastructure, graduation
Texas A&M Interim President Mark Hussey told the faculty on Monday that he plans to tackle some tough issues so that the next president doesn't have to. Building parking garages, managing how freshmen live on campus, the logistics of holding graduations with increasing enrollment and overhauling how research funding is distributed are examples of changes that could be made under his tenure, he said. "My highest priority in the first couple of months is to try to make some of those decisions that I wouldn't want the next president of Texas A&M University to have to make," Hussey told the group. "There are a number of issues that are hanging out there."
U. of Missouri takes shape during past 175 years
Stroll down to the MU Columns on Francis Quadrangle. Watch Jesse Hall's towering dome touch the sky. Sit next to Thomas Jefferson's statue. Rub David R. Francis' nose for good luck. These University of Missouri landmarks are a part of the university's 175-year history, a birthday MU is celebrating Tuesday. The campus has transformed since the university was founded in 1839, a story that begins with the Geyer Act and the efforts of the 900 residents of Boone County at the time. Missouri's Geyer Act of 1839 set up funds to create a state university.
Shunned as NSA Advisers, Academics Question Their Ties to the Agency
For decades, the National Security Agency's main internal advisory board was rich with scientists from major research universities, helping the agency's leaders keep American spies technologically a step ahead of their Cold War rivals. Then, in the past dozen years or so, around the same time the NSA began its controversial wholesale collection of phone and computer data, the agency was quietly making another change: Replacing many of those academics with corporate advisers more steeped in the tactics of surveillance than in either basic science or overall strategies. Now many academics are trying to be heard from the outside, arguing that the NSA's spying tactics are proving counterproductive and that university researchers have a duty to stop assisting them.
Unusual presidential candor at U.Va. sexual misconduct conference
One of the lighter moments of a conference on campus sexual misconduct at the University of Virginia on Monday followed a serious question from a student, who asked the six presidents on a much-anticipated panel how they were specifically assisting minority and low-income survivors, who are especially vulnerable to assault. The presidents didn't get a chance to answer -- Association of American Universities President Hunter Rawlings, who moderated the panel, cut in to ask the student whether he had any suggestions. "Oh, you wanted advice?" the student said, clearly in surprise, as the audience broke into laughter. "I can give you advice!" He and another half-dozen or so students -- as many as time permitted -- offered up idea after idea after idea, and they weren't shy about expressing gratitude for the opportunity.

Mississippi 'ready' for gay athlete
Coaches and administrators from Ole Miss and Mississippi State said they hope they ready for it, even if the situation has not presented itself yet. The question, though, was unavoidable Monday, a day after former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam announced via ESPN and the New York Times that he was gay. Said Mississippi State athletics director Scott Stricklin: "We focus on what kind of people individuals are, and what their work ethics and talents are. What makes them unique, more so than the other things that at the end of the day doesn't impact their ability to be successful academically and athletically." "Chances are, there's a guy that is gay on every team," Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. "It's not that big of a deal. Statistically speaking probably more than one."
MSU's Ready aims for return to lineup against Georgia
IJ Ready has no cause to feel the way he did medically and emotionally Saturday while in the Humphrey Coliseum training room. The Mississippi State freshman point guard said Monday he "felt he let his team down" when he was unable to play during the Bulldogs 69-59 loss to Kentucky this past weekend. The fact remains Ready had no control over his 103-degree fever he had obtained by warmups Saturday morning and was even willing to play with a temperature of 100. "I felt like I could've done something to prevent it even though I didn't even know (the fever) was coming," Ready said. "I was proud of my team because of course we're going to fight every game especially when you're the underdog."
MSU Notebook: Point guard Ready planning to play
Mississippi State point guard I.J. Ready plans to be back on the floor for Wednesday's game with Georgia. Ready missed Friday's practice and the Kentucky game the following day with a 103-degree fever. The freshman went through the shootaround with the team but was too ill to participate and watched the game from the training room. A test by team physician Mike Mabry came back negative for the flu, although Ready suffered from many of the same symptoms. "I'm over my fever now but I'm still kind of sick and not feeling like myself," Ready said Monday afternoon.
MSU Media Day: Woodruff ready to make statement for Bulldogs
If there's ever a good omen for Mississippi State baseball, it's the new living situation for pitcher Brandon Woodruff. The junior, who will get the opening day start Friday against Hofstra at 4 p.m., was invited by MSU first baseman Wes Rea to move into his off-campus house. The last occupant of Woodruff's new bedroom was a future first round pick in the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft in Hunter Renfroe. When Woodruff steps on the mound Friday afternoon, the thousands of MSU fans at Dudy Noble Field will be hoping for another similar resurgent junior season. "It's so crazy at our house that as soon as Hunter moves out and Brandon moves in, the one constant is the phone won't stop ringing," Rea said with a smile.
Baseball Preview: Mississippi State has young platoon at catcher
John Cohen saw a weakness. Mississippi State's effort wasn't good enough. Not for a team that advanced to the College World Series finals five months earlier. Game 1 of the Bulldogs World Series saw four errors. Outfielders dropped three balls. The Bulldogs ran nine sprints for a reason. The four new catchers dropped nine pitches. "We were tougher on the (catchers) than any," MSU associate head coach and pitching coach Butch Thompson said. "And I think because of that, we've had more growth from that position than anywhere on the field." The growth takes center stage 4 p.m. Friday at Dudy Noble Field. The Bulldogs open their season with four-game series against Hofstra.
MSU Diamond Dogs set eyes on national championship
Following its run in the 2013 College World Series, the Mississippi State baseball squad is ready to repeat its appearance in the 2014 campaign. But this time, the No. 2 preseason Bulldogs expect to bring home a national title. "This year, it wasn't a big deal to let people know our expectations," said team captain Wes Rea. "They know our expectations based on how we play and how we performed last year and what coach (John) Cohen has going on now with this program."
First 'Cowbell Yell At Dudy Noble' moved to Thursday
Due to the threat of inclement weather, Mississippi State baseball's Cowbell Yell at Dudy Noble Field event will now be held on Thursday [Feb. 13]. Admission is free and open to the public. The forecast for the outdoor event calls for sunshine with a high of 53 degrees and no rain. Starting at 6 p.m., fans will get their first look at the 2014 intro video, see highlights of last season's run to MSU's ninth College World Series and see special video messages from current Bulldogs in Major League Baseball. In addition, fans will hear from head coach John Cohen on the upcoming season.
Mississippi State football completes staff assignments
Mississippi State announced the finalized football coaching staff Monday for the 2014 season. As reported last week by The Dispatch, MSU head coach Dan Mullen hired former Utah quarterback and assistant coach Brian Johnson as the Bulldogs quarterbacks coach. Johnson was in Starkville last Thursday to interview with MSU head coach Dan Mullen and discuss his role to fill the vacancy on the coaching staff. "I've known Brian since I recruited him at Utah, and he is an excellent fit to our staff with his experience and knowledge of the quarterback position," Mullen said in a university release.
Mullen names Johnson QBs coach, shuffles staff roles
Dan Mullen finalized his coaching staff at Mississippi State with a familiar face. Former Utah quarterback Brian Johnson, who Mullen signed and coached for one year, has joined the Bulldogs' staff as their new quarterbacks coach. "I've known Brian since I recruited him at Utah, and he is an excellent fit to our staff with his experience and knowledge of the quarterback position," Mullen said in a release from the university. Johnson has spent the past four seasons at his alma mater.
MSU softball postponed
The Mississippi State softball team's game against Southeastern Louisiana, originally scheduled for Tuesday at the MSU Softball Stadium, has been postponed because of the forecast of inclement weather. The Lady Lions will now travel to Starkville for a March 25 contest starting at 5 p.m. Mississippi State (5-0) resumes action Thursday, traveling to Boca Raton, Fla., for the FAU Strike Out Cancer Tournament.

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