Tuesday, February 25, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
MSU Ranks Top in Nation for Cybersecurity Programs
Information-technology security professionals agree: Mississippi State University features one of the nation's best cybersecurity programs. According to a Hewlett Packard-sponsored survey by the Ponemon Institute released Monday, the university's cybersecurity courses and degree programs rank among the top three for academic excellence and practical relevance. "We have long known that our program was one of the best in the country. It is good to see that others feel the same way about it," said Dave Dampier, professor of computer science and engineering. "This ranking can only help to continue to attract quality young men and women to Mississippi State University to study cybersecurity."
Mississippi State Named 'Best Value' School
For the second time in a year, Mississippi State is ranked among top U.S. public universities for return on investment, making the BestValueSchools.com Southern U.S. Region listing at No. 11. Mississippi State is the only state school making the list. BestValueSchools.com is the most recent source identifying MSU as a sound financial return on a college education with an in-state, 30-year net ROI of $602,000 and an out-of-state, 30-year net ROI of $565,700. Last spring, an annual analysis by the Wall Street Journal on college costs gave a 7.8 percent ROI for Mississippi State, compared with 6.7 percent for the next highest university in the state. The WSJ also listed MSU graduates as obtaining the state's highest average starting salaries -- at $41,200–and the state's highest average mid-career salaries -- $72,700.
Producers learn how to grow safe, healthy product
With increased scrutiny on food safety, a recent event looked to give local growers the latest and greatest in the safe handling of their product from planting to harvest. More than 20 fruit and vegetable growers gathered at Mississippi State University recently for an all-day workshop about food safety and best practices. Instructors from the MSU Extension Service, Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, and Alcorn State University took attendees through an intensive course designed to introduce them to aspects of raising produce to sell to the public. "This workshop helps producers prepare for certification," said Eric Stafne, Extension fruit crops specialist. "While not all purchasers or farmers markets require certification, producers responding to market demand for locally grown produce in grocery stores will find certification is required."
MSU Riley Center Says Ticket Sales Encouraging
Tickets for individual shows are now on sale for the spring/summer season at the MSU Riley Center in downtown Meridian. According to box office manager, Derron Radcliff, sales are already up by 15 percent from last season. "So far ticket sales have gone extremely well," said Radcliff. "We have been extremely busy this morning; the phones are ringing off the hook. So it has been a great response to our spring/summer season."
MSU Foundation names five new members
The Mississippi State University Foundation has named five new members to its 46-seat board of directors. The MSU alumni include: David B. Hall of Meridian, CEO of Hall Timberlands; Malcolm B. Lightsey Sr. of Ridgeland, retired president and CEO of SunTech Inc.; John R. Lundy of Jackson, partner for Capitol Resources LLC; Cynthia M. Stevens of Alexandria, Va., management principal for government relations with Deloitte LLP; and Anthony L. Wilson of Atlanta, Ga., executive vice president of customer service and operations for Georgia Power Co. John P. Rush, MSU vice president for development and alumni, is the foundation board's CEO. David Easley, executive director of finance, is its chief financial officer, and Jack McCarty, executive director of development, is board secretary.
Russia bans Vietnamese pangasius; antibiotics and pathogens found
The Russian Agency for Health and Consumer Rights has barred imports of Vietnamese pangasius until further notice. Russian inspectors in December found unacceptable levels of antibiotics and hormones. The Russian government also found E. coli and listeria in fish products from almost half of the Vietnamese exporting farms, which included 16 out of 35 facilities, according to the Itar-Tass news service. The catfish-like pangasius (commonly marketed as basa, tra and swai) has also been shunned by several other importers in Europe due to antibiotics and other additives. Use of antibiotics in such foods can result in development of drug-resistant bacteria, rendering the drugs ineffective to treat serious illnesses in humans.
Disabled dolphins create colorful works of art at Institute for Marine Mammal Studies
A near-death experience can spark something new in those who experience it. For Chance the dolphin, a harrowing experience has turned into a rather colorful one. After washing up on death's doorstep a couple years ago, the dolphin has been dabbling in a bit of painting at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport. Chance and two others have been learning to paint over the past few months. Now that they have it down pat, people will soon be able to sign up to interact with the mammals while they create their masterpieces. Executive director Moby Solangi said the IMMS is starting a Paint with a Dolphin program in late March or early April, depending on the weather.
Troopers: We need funding
At least 100 active and retired state troopers and family members are expected to rally at the Capitol on Wednesday -- a "blue-out" to lobby lawmakers to add more Highway Patrol troopers to the roads. The event is being organized by the Mississippi State Troopers Association. Association President Master Sgt. Jimmie Thomas said all the active troopers involved will be off duty and driving personal vehicles. "This is an effort to bring our plea for a trooper school," Thomas said. Department of Public Safety leaders and Gov. Phil Bryant say the Highway Patrol is short 150 troopers with many more eligible to retire. But Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and other lawmakers, particularly in the Senate, have questioned management and spending at DPS and its Highway Patrol and whether trooper shortages are because the agency is too top heavy in administration and spends unwisely.
Pipeline hearing gets testy; legislator, energy executive spar over tax exemption
A House committee hearing on a bill that would remove carbon dioxide's exemption from the state's oil and gas severance tax got testy when it came time to parse the legislation's economics. House Bill 1554 would strip the severance tax exemption from carbon dioxide that is shipped out of state via pipeline; it would restore the exemption in the form of a credit if the gas stayed in Mississippi. Differences on the financial particulars led the representative who authored the bill to spar with an executive from Denbury Resources, an energy exploration company that vigorously opposes it. Rep. Gary Staples, R-Laurel, said 500 million cubic feet of carbon dioxide extracted in Mississippi leaves the state annually, most of it shipped to Texas. Not taxing it costs the state $20 million in revenue, he said.
Mississippi Board of Education OKs Common Core curricula
Mississippi's Board of Education approved new Common Core-aligned English and math courses Friday, but not before some board members objected, saying they believe teachers and students need another year to prepare. Leaders of the state Department of Education said they will work with teachers but said districts are supposed to be several years into implementation. Board members who voiced objections said they support Common Core but are worried about switching to courses that could be much harder, especially for students who have been taught under the old standards. There's particular concern about new math classes.
Mississippi awards more school security grants
The state Board of Education has awarded school security grants to 24 more Mississippi school districts, but still hasn't managed to spend even half the $5 million that the state Legislature appropriated for the program in 2013. The board voted Friday to award $630,000. The Lauderdale County school district got the most money, $80,000. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves spurred lawmakers last year to set aside $5 million for grants paying $10,000 each toward armed school resource officers. The program was meant as the state's response to the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.
Proposed defense cuts would hit some bases, spare others
Sweeping budget and personnel cuts proposed Monday by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel would hit some military bases hard while protecting others. With the Army targeted to lose as many as 80,000 active-duty troops from its current 520,000-strong force, reaching its smallest size since before World II, major installations from Fort Jackson, S.C., to Fort Hood, Texas, could see their operations scaled back significantly. Meanwhile, installations such as Fort Bragg, N.C., Joint Base Lewis-McChord outside Tacoma, Wash., and Fort Campbell, Ky., would likely emerge largely unscathed from the cuts because of their specialized missions.
Effort to build gay marriage support heads South
Less than two weeks after a federal judge declared Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, a new effort has been launched in the South seeking to build wider acceptance of gay and lesbian couples in the hope of overturning similar bans across the region. The $1 million effort will be focused on field organizing and sharing the stories of gay couples through local community and business events as well as social media in 14 Southern states. The states targeted in the campaign all have either a constitutional or statutory provision defining marriage as between a man and a woman, and Republicans still hold considerable sway in those states. Meanwhile, lawsuits have been filed across the region challenging those bans.
Holder Sees Way to Curb Bans on Gay Marriage
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Monday injected the Obama administration into the emotional and politicized debate over the future of state same-sex marriage bans, declaring in an interview that state attorneys general are not obligated to defend laws that they believe are discriminatory. Mr. Holder was careful not to encourage his state counterparts to disavow their own laws, but said that officials who have carefully studied bans on gay marriage could refuse to defend them. Six state attorneys general -- all Democrats -- have refused to defend bans on same-sex marriage, prompting criticism from Republicans who say they have a duty to stand behind their state laws, even if they do not agree with them. It is highly unusual for the United States attorney general to advise his state counterparts on how and when to refuse to defend state laws.
USDA spending $3M to feed honeybees in Midwest
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will spend millions of dollars to help farmers and ranchers improve pastures in five Midwestern states to provide food for the nation's struggling honeybees under a program to be announced Tuesday. Commercial honeybees pollinate an estimated $15 billion worth of produce each year. Many beekeepers bring hives to the Upper Midwest in the summer for bees to gather nectar and pollen for food, then truck them in the spring to California and other states to pollinate everything from almonds to apples to avocadoes. But agricultural production has been threatened by a more than decade-long decline in commercial honeybees and their wild cousins due to habitat loss and pesticide use. Colony collapse disorder, in which honey bees suddenly disappear or die, has made the problem worse, boosting losses over the winter to as much as 30 percent per year.
Soledad O'Brien at UM: 'Who's the face of black America?'
Former NBC and CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien came to the University of Mississippi on Monday to talk about race -- on the heels of a racially charged incident. "The timing is tough. Ole Miss is in the news," she said. O'Brien, known among other works for her "Black in America" documentary series, gave the keynote address for the university's celebration of Black History Month, a scant week after a noose was looped over the statue of James Meredith, who broke the color barrier at Ole Miss. An investigation continues into whether the act broke any federal laws. Chancellor Dan Jones said, "Hateful acts are not welcome at this university. This was an act of intimidation, but we at Ole Miss will not be intimidated."
Former professor says racist desecration devalues Ole Miss degree
The three young adults accused of vandalizing the James Meredith statue at Ole Miss are from Georgia, not Mississippi. In a state trying to heal wounds from a racially-charged past, some say it is depressing that a few people continue to pick at the scabs. After teaching at Ole Miss for decades, Professor Ralph Breseth is now at Loyola University in Chicago. He is beyond tired of seeing his former school making headlines several hours away. "You just shake your head and say not again," said Breseth. "You're going to tell me that doesn't devalue my time there, or my doctorate degree from there when I have people who roll their eyes when I bring up the University of Mississippi? Call that whatever you want, but I call it damage," he said.
Statue incident: Hate crime or First Amendment?
As three freshmen kicked out of their fraternity await a ruling from the University of Mississippi's judicial council, a public debate has arisen as to whether the act of hanging a noose and an old Georgia flag on the James Meredith statue on campus is protected by the First Amendment. Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity kicked the three out, and the national headquarters has suspended the chapter pending a full investigation of how such members made it through the recruitment process. The university will not identify the students unless criminal charges are filed, spokesman Danny Blanton said. The fraternity also would not name the students. The line between free speech and hate speech is blurry in places, according to some legal experts.
MDOT adds roundabout to congested Oxford intersection
Oxford residents and Ole Miss students could have an easier time commuting through a congested intersection near a campus entrance, state officials say. On Monday, the Mississippi Department of Transportation announced its plans to construct an additional roundabout at the intersection of Old Taylor Road and Highway 6. After the project, a roundabout will be on each side of the Old Taylor Road bridge. MDOT officials say the project's major closures are scheduled to coincide with the university's summer break.
USM Gulf Coast to host history roundtable
The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast will host a special roundtable discussion titled, "From the Flatlands to the Coast: Bringing the Mississippi Delta to the Mississippi Gulf Coast" on Thursday at the Gulf Park campus in Long Beach. The roundtable will be held from 12:30-1:30 p.m. at the Evelyn Gandy Cultural Center, third floor, Gulf Coast Library. Lunch will be provided. The discussion will feature presentations by Southern Miss professors Douglas Bristol ("Black GIs in the Mississippi Delta during World War II and Afterwards") and Rebecca Tuuri ("Womanpower from Gulfport to the Delta: The National Council of Negro Women's Housing Project Turnkey III").
College Board approves new JSU degree programs
The state Board College has approved four new degree programs at Jackson State University. The programs will be offered beginning this fall. The College Board approved this past week doctorate programs in engineering and in computational and data-enabled science and engineering. The board approved bachelor of science programs in biomedical engineering and in statistics.
Remembering the Jackson State College Shooting
There are various theories about what happened in May, 1970 on the campus of Jackson State College. In less than 30 seconds, officers from the Jackson Police Department and Highway Patrol had fired 460 rounds. Twenty-one-year-old Phillip Lafayette Gibbs a junior at Jackson State and Jim Hill High School senior and track star, 17 year old James Earl Green were killed, 12 others injured. James "Lap" Baker was a senior at Jackson State College and witnessed the shooting. He says there have been many stories about what happened. No one has ever been prosecuted for the shooting at Jackson State College.
'On the Case' recaps co-ed's 1985 murder and her life
Stacie Pannell won't graduate from college. She won't marry or give her mother grandchildren. She won't be an aunt to nieces and nephews through her younger sister and brother. On Oct. 8, 1985, an 18-year old Stacie Pannell of Ripley was killed in her dorm room at Northeast Mississippi Community College. The details of that crime, the arrest of a suspect, and the circuitous process that led to a trial and conviction will be told in Sunday's episode of "On The Case With Paula Zahn." The episode -- "Evidence of Deception" -- airs at 9 p.m. on the ID channel.
Decline of traditional college student creates business opportunity for company that stops online test cheatings
For most Americans, college means young students walking to class on leafy green campuses with pillared brick buildings and large lecture halls. But it's no secret that the traditional definition of the college experience is being challenged. While the changing face of the American college student is forcing colleges and universities to alter their business models, it's creating opportunities for companies like ProctorU, which helps prevent students from cheating during online exams. Since its founding, it has grown into three offices in Birmingham and Livermore and Folsom, Calif. with a total of more than 330 employees. It has partnerships with more than 450 colleges and universities worldwide, including the University of Alabama and Auburn University.
'This is Auburn' speaker series launches Thursday
A diverse group of speakers will share how their Auburn experiences have shaped their innovation, determination and success at Auburn University's "This is Auburn." Speaker Series on Thursday from 4-6 p.m. at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. The public event will feature distinguished Auburn students, alumni, staff and friends. "As an Auburn Family, it is vital to create environments for individuals to share their stories and inspire those around them," said Marissa Stanley, graduate student and co-organizer of the series.
Sex Week at U. of Tennessee draws lawmakers' ire
Plans to promote safe sex at the University of Tennessee's Knoxville campus through a series of lectures, games and classes have sparked debate in the state legislature for the second year running. The state House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution on a 69-17 vote Monday night that condemns Sex Week, a campus-wide event that starts Sunday and features light-hearted activities such as an aphrodisiac cooking class as well as serious discussions on topics such sexual assault, binge drinking and pornography. Legislators say the six-day event sends the wrong message about the University of Tennessee and the state. In addition to the resolution, at least two other bills that relate to Sex Week have been filed.
Florida considers in-state tuition for Dreamers
State lawmakers could approve a bill this session allowing qualified Florida students to pay in-state college tuition even if they are in the country illegally. The tuition debate is a perennial one in Tallahassee. Similar bills passed the House and Senate but never in the same year. But this year the measure appears to be gaining broader support. House Speaker Bill Weatherford has staunchly backed the proposal. At least fifteen other states have passed such laws, with another seven considering them this year. The trend reflects immigrant advocates' increasing focus on state legislatures as Congress fails to make any headway on national immigration reform. It also highlights lawmakers growing recognition of the influence of Latino voters.
U. of Missouri freshman accused of rape
University of Missouri police arrested an 18-year-old student on suspicion of second-degree rape Monday morning, Capt. Brian Weimer said in a news release. MUPD officers were dispatched at 12:08 a.m. Monday to Laws Hall on a report of a sexual assault that occurred early the previous morning, Weimer said. The victim, who is a Mizzou student, told police the suspect is an acquaintance. Police located freshman Vincent T. Nuño and arrested him at about 7:43 a.m. Monday in Laws Hall. In addition to second-degree rape, he is also suspected of possession of intoxicating liquor as a minor.
U. of Missouri Faculty Council requests two minutes of silence Thursday to honor fallen firefighter
A memorial service for Columbia firefighter Lt. Bruce Britt, who was killed after a walkway collapsed at University Village early Saturday, has been scheduled for Thursday morning at The Crossing. The University of Missouri Faculty Council is encouraging faculty to observe two minutes of silence at 10 a.m., when the service is scheduled to begin at the church near the intersection of Grindstone Parkway and Rock Quarry Road. "At the moment of his death, Lt. Britt was assisting MU students in the evacuation of their apartment complex," said Craig Roberts, the council's chairman of university policy, in a news release. Frankie Minor, Department of Residential Life director, said the university is still waiting on answers as to what caused the collapse.
Colorblind Notion Aside, Colleges Grapple With Racial Tension
A brochure for the University of Michigan features a vision of multicultural harmony, with a group of students from different racial backgrounds sitting on a verdant lawn, smiling and conversing. The scene at the undergraduate library one night last week was quite different, as hundreds of students and faculty members gathered for a 12-hour "speak out" to address racial tensions brought to the fore by a party that had been planned for November and then canceled amid protests. The fraternity hosting the party, whose members are mostly Asian and white, had invited "rappers, twerkers, gangsters" and others "back to da hood again." Beyond the immediate provocation of the party, a sharp decline in black undergraduate enrollment and a general feeling of isolation among black students on campus have prompted a new wave of student activism. Similar episodes and tensions have unsettled colleges including Arizona State; the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Mississippi; and Dartmouth.
Evaluating the Payoff of a College Degree
A paper released on Monday by the Urban Institute seeks to add context to the debate over whether college pays off. The paper, "Higher Education Earnings Premium: Value, Variation, and Trends," was written by Sandy Baum, a senior fellow at the research organization. The paper's main takeaway: "The payoff is high, and rising," Ms. Baum says. "But it's not as simple as that." Calculating the payoff of a degree requires a series of choices that lead to different results.
A Simpler IP Process
In an attempt to make it easier for researchers to commercialize their work, officials at Cornell University's New York City campus are reconsidering how they make money off intellectual property. Instead of going through a laborious revenue-sharing negotiation with researchers who believe they have a valuable idea, an institute at Cornell Tech is going to let a set of postdocs keep exclusive license to their IP and take a flat amount of equity if the researchers create a spinoff company. Officials believe this simple deal will cut through red tape that discourages both inventors and investors from working with academic software developers. The institution's experiment comes at a time of much debate about how universities take new technologies from collegiate laboratories to the commercial marketplace.
Partisan Split on Common Core Evident in Congress
A spate of Republican-sponsored legislation on Capitol Hill makes clear that the partisan edge to criticism of the common-core academic standards isn't restricted to state legislatures. Some GOP lawmakers---including members who are up for re-election or seeking higher office---have introduced bills that would admonish the Obama administration for its role in bolstering the Common Core State Standards and, in some cases, bar federal use of competitive grants or regulatory flexibility to encourage their adoption. Coming at the kickoff of the 2014 congressional midterm elections, the bills may help conservative lawmakers shore up their base and fend off potential primary challenges. But it's unlikely President Barack Obama would sign such legislation, so a debate in either chamber of Congress on the legislation would be largely symbolic.

Mississippi State upbeat about final stretch
Despite a nine-game losing streak, Mississippi State's basketball practices remain upbeat. They have to be. MSU has four games remaining to try to snap the season-long skid. The Bulldogs' last win came against Auburn on Jan. 22. And if they can't grab a win in the final four games, the losing streak will match last year's long of 13. Mississippi State hosts Tennessee on Wednesday, and follows that with trips to Missouri and Georgia before its regular season comes to an end March 8 in Starkville against South Carolina. The only team the Bulldogs have played already this season is Georgia. "It's really different. By this point in time, you think you'd have old hats and old foes," MSU coach Rick Ray said. "It almost helps you in the fact that you have something fresh."
MSU Notebook: Bulldogs battling their long skid
Although Mississippi State is in the midst of a season-long nine game losing streak, Rick Ray continues to see his team battling down the stretch. Six of the losses during the Bulldogs skid have come by 11 points or fewer, including a 73-69 setback to Arkansas last Saturday. "You don't give yourself a chance to get out of this funk and win if you don't play hard and compete," Ray said. "I've thought we've been pretty competitive as far as playing hard and giving an effort. When you start not seeing an effort on a day-to-day basis in practice, which is even harder to get up for than a game, then I'll start getting concerned about things." MSU hosts Tennessee on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
McGarity hopes SEC rule change will pump up atmosphere at UGA football games
Jeremy Pruitt's Georgia defense could get a boost this season from Imagine Dragons or Eminem. Sanford Stadium -- and other Southeastern Conference stadiums for that matter -- will be able to play recorded music in between plays in an effort to pump up the in-game atmosphere, Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said. "If you need to get people revved up for a big third-down play, you can do that," McGarity said. "You could always do it with your band, but now you can do it any way you want to. You still have to stop once the quarterback gets over the ball, gets under the center or in the shotgun." McGarity said the SEC has relaxed its rules on playing music over the stadium sound system. McGarity is on an SEC working group, chaired by Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin, that looks at marketing, promotions and fan interaction and declining attendance.
RICK CLEVELAND (OPINION): Orley Hood brave in defeat
Mississippi syndicated sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes: "Get the score in the first paragraph. Spell folks' names correctly. Write in short direct sentences. The sooner you finish, the better. When I started writing sports for newspapers almost half a century ago now, those were my instructions. The Hattiesburg American was hiring stringers. I was but 13, but I could type, spell a little, and breathe. In other words, I qualified. ...And then I started working with Orley Hood at the Jackson newspapers. Orley was Mississippi's sports poet laureate. The little man, with the gigantic soul, could ever more write. You should know he was also one of my best friends, ever. Orley died last week due to the complications of a stem cell transplant to treat acute leukemia. In sports terms, leukemia won a knockdown drag out. Orley was courageous in defeat."

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