Friday, March 14, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Institutes partner for advanced Gulf research
The Northern Gulf Institute, headed by Mississippi State University, and a group of institutions in Mexico announced their partnership to advance studies of the Gulf of Mexico's ecosystem. According to Steven Ashby, co-director of NGI, the groups expect to develop projects covering everything between water quality, habitat conservation and restoration and environmental education. The agreement recently signed with the Consorcio de Instituciones de Investigacion Marina del Golfo de Mexico also supports joint research activities with other organizations and governmental agencies that have an interest in the Gulf of Mexico.
MSU joins Mexican groups to study Gulf ecosystem
A research consortium led by Mississippi State University is partnering with a group of institutions in Mexico to advance further study of the Gulf of Mexico's ecosystem. The Northern Gulf Institute and CiiMar-GoM (the Consorcio de Instituciones de Investigacion Marina del Golfo de Mexico) have signed a memorandum of agreement to support joint research activities of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and other organizations and governmental agencies with an interest in research and educational programs for the Gulf of Mexico region.
Seminar offers education about new Farm Bill
Mike Wagner drove to Starkville from 140 miles away to learn about the new Farm Bill Congress passed in February. Wagner grows rice, soybeans, wheat and corn on his farm in Sumner, and one of the Farm Bill's many purposes is to protect farmers like him from fluctuations in crop yields and market prices. Much has changed with the new Farm Bill, particularly in commodity programs and crop insurance options. Wagner said he had studied the bill thoroughly through mass media, but he still felt there was a lot to learn. And while Mississippi State University offered a seminar closer to where he lived, it did not fit his schedule as well as one in Starkville on Thursday did.
Wheat beats hard freeze; crop spared in spite of harsh winter, heavy rains
Mississippi's in-season wheat crop and the soil that will soon host the state's springtime plantings seem to be holding their own against an unusually cold winter. And that's good news because a poor wheat crop -- in Mississippi and across the nation -- can push up bread prices. While the harsh winter planted snow, ice and traffic jams on metro-area roadways, winter wheat has proven much more adaptable to the conditions, says Dennis Reginelli, a regional Extension Service specialist at Mississippi State University.
Tips for Starting Spring Garden
Warm weather in early spring practically dares gardeners to plant something, but starting too early can lead to failure. Mississippi State University Extension Service horticulturists Gary Bachman and Rick Snyder offered some tips on how to get a head start on summer vegetables without the risk of losing them to a late frost.
Chamber plans more tech lunches
The Cleveland- Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce recently hosted a Lunch and Learn with the Mississippi State University Extension Service Center for Technology Outreach on the use of technology and the Internet to promote a business. During this workshop patrons learned about different social media and the importance of making yourself known on the Internet. Over 30 people signed up for the event and several more dropped in as it began.
MSU quarter horse show begins today
The Mississippi State University American Quarter Horse Association show kicks off today, and the Mississippi Horse Park is hoping the event is bigger and better than ever. The AQHA show, which is in its 55th year, is the oldest of its sort in Mississippi. The show runs through Sunday in the horse park's main arena.
County soon to address four-year road, bridge plan
Oktibbeha County supervisors are expected to turn their attention toward updating the county's four-year road plan this spring once concluding their search for a new administrator. County Road Manager Victor Collins said the update could come as early as April. The board is scheduled to meet 5:30 p.m. Monday at the chancery courthouse to address the administrator search and hold a public hearing on the county's comprehensive planning efforts.
All in a day's work: Mississippi Justice Randy Pierce publishes second novel
Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Randy Pierce has finished his second novel. "Magnolia Mud" will be published April 1. The book follows two candidates for Mississippi governor, exploring how campaigns and personal tragedy affect them and their families. Pierce's first book was self-published, but Dogwood Press in Jackson is publishing his second. He loves to read fiction set in Mississippi, so that's what he writes, too. He's currently reading John Grisham's latest novel, "Sycamore Row."
School start bill in Bryant's hands
A spokeswoman for Gov. Phil Bryant said he would review legislation heading his way to repeal a law mandating that public schools not begin the new year before the third Monday in August. The House quickly and without debate took the final action Thursday morning to send the bill to the governor. The House had voted 66-52 on Tuesday to repeal the school start mandate, but it was held on a motion to reconsider. Some thought that Education Chairman John Moore, R-Brandon, and the rest of the House leadership might delay the final passage of the legislation. But on Thursday, Moore said, based on the will of the House, he was moving to release the legislation to the governor.
Bill to limit flood insurance rate hikes headed to president
The Senate gave final congressional approval Thursday to a bill that would limit rate increases for federal flood insurance policies to 18 percent per year. The legislation also restored grandfathering, so that rates don't go up when flood maps are redrawn, and allowed home buyers to keep the same flood insurance premium subsidies that the sellers had. The House of Representatives already passed the measure with support from both parties, and it is now headed to President Barack Obama's desk. Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi said that the bipartisan compromise, not an everyday event in polarized Washington, "is truly a testament to people overcoming politics."
Cochran seeking commitment from DHS for data center consolidation
U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) is seeking confirmation that the Department of Homeland Security is committed to programs that promote cost savings while still meeting the nation's domestic security needs -- specifically pointing to the data center consolidation project at Stennis Space Center and advanced funding for U.S. Coast Guard ship procurement. Cochran also asked Johnson for an update on DHS efforts to coordinate with other organizations to meet cybersecurity threats to the nation. The department, for example, utilizes the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg to address many of its research needs. "Because the department is still relatively new, it should make up for not having a robust laboratory network of its own by leveraging its resources with other federal laboratories and existing university capabilities. This would save money by not forcing DHS to pay for stand-alone capabilities," Cochran said.
Thad Cochran shrugs off Sarah Palin nod to opponent
Sarah Palin's endorsement of his primary opponent doesn't mean much to Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran. Asked what he thought of the news that the former Alaskan governor had blessed his conservative challenger for the state's Republican nomination, the soft-spoken Cochran on Thursday chuckled and said: "You're kidding me!" "Hadn't heard that," Cochran said, expressing surprise that Palin is backing state Sen. Chris McDaniel.
Cochran, Wicker promote U.S.-raised catfish
Mississippi Republican Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker are asking Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to uphold a decision reached last summer that determined U.S. catfish producers have been harmed by unfairly-priced frozen fish fillets from Vietnam. The Commerce Department continues to review an ongoing antidumping action on fillet imports from Vietnam. Cochran and Wicker and other senators from Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana expressed their concerns in a letter this week to Pritzker.
Obama will sign Harper bill on pediatric research
White House officials said Thursday that President Barack Obama will sign legislation that clears the way to redirect money spent on political party conventions for use in pediatric medical research. "The president is pleased to see that Congress has come together to pass legislation that aims to accelerate the search for cancer treatments for children," the White House said in a statement. The Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, authored by Republican Rep. Gregg Harper of Mississippi, approves shifting $126 million from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund to the National Institutes of Health to pay for a 10-year pediatric research initiative. The fund, supported by taxpayer money, helps pay for presidential nominating conventions.
Advances in electronic warfare fly under the public's radar
As the Pentagon moves beyond the relatively low-tech wars in the Middle East and turns its attention to future national security challenges, it has doubled down on sophisticated new radar-jamming devices that aim to render adversaries' air defenses useless. Although the U.S. faced limited resistance in the skies above Iraq and Afghanistan, that would not be the case in Asia, where the Obama administration plans to shift its diplomatic focus and strengthen its defense strategy in the coming decade. So when the Pentagon revealed its fiscal 2015 budget proposal last week, much of the attention was given to a boost in spending on drones and cybersecurity. Less heralded, but vital to U.S. strategic success, experts say, was the high-dollar investment in radar-jamming technology and other electronic warfare.
WUSM show captures national award
Southern Miss Today, WUSM's daily news and public affairs show, took home a first-place award for Best Community News Coverage at the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System's annual awards ceremony held March 8 in New York. WUSM, the University of Southern Mississippi's radio station, was also a finalist in the Best Event Promo and Best Music Specialty Show categories. "We are excited about winning our first national competition," said Station Manager Justin Martin. "This could not have happened without my assistant manager Courtney Ingle and the staff of Southern Miss Today."
U. of Alabama unveils new Digital Media Center
The grand opening of the University of Alabama's Digital Media Center on Thursday was simultaneously a celebration of the new $14.6 million, 46,594-square-foot facility in Bryant-Denny Stadium and a discussion of the challenges and opportunities new professionals will face once they leave. UA President Judy Bonner spoke briefly ahead of a panel of UA alumni, including recent graduates and former senior correspondent for ABC News John Cochran, who discussed the history, present and future of digital media. Bonner said the new facility would help prepare students to fill jobs and tackle problems of the constantly evolving medium.
Grad students, others protest fees on steps of U. of Florida admin building
About 100 graduate students, faculty and Gainesville residents gathered Thursday on the steps of Tigert Hall, the University of Florida's administrative building, to protest the school's graduate student fees, which are due Friday. The protest was organized by Graduate Assistants United, UF's union for graduate, teaching and research assistants. At the protest, graduate students and members of the United Faculty of Florida filled Tigert Hall's steps, flashing signs that read "UF works because GAs do" and "The party is here."
Director of UF Online resigns after less than three months
When former provost Betty Capaldi Phillips agreed to come back to the University of Florida to direct the startup of the state's first fully online four-year bachelor's degree program, it was met with much fanfare. She had built a reputation as vice chancellor of the State University of New York system and as provost of Arizona State University, helping to launch ASU's own, nationally acclaimed online program. But less than three months after she officially began as director of UF Online on Jan. 1, Phillips -- the wife of former UF Senior Vice President and COO Win Phillips -- is no longer in charge of that program. In an administrative memo sent out to faculty after 9 p.m. Tuesday, UF Provost Joe Glover didn't even mention Betty Capaldi Phillips by name.
Lawmakers again condemn U. of Tennessee's Sex Week
Tennessee lawmakers approved another condemnation of Sex Week at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, but even this latest measure may not be the final word on the controversy. The state Senate passed a resolution 23-6 Thursday morning that criticizes the university for allowing the six-day series of lectures, games and other events meant to promote discussion about sexuality. The resolution also lays out new rules for distributing student activity fees, a portion of which was used to fund the event. But Senate Joint Resolution 626 is not likely to spell the end of Tennessee lawmakers' involvement in the issue.
U. of Missouri announces administrative moves
University of Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced Thursday during a MU Faculty Council meeting that Hank Foley, UM System vice president for academic affairs, research and economic development, has been named MU's senior vice chancellor for research and graduate studies. Foley's appointment is effective immediately, and he will continue in his role with the UM System, Loftin said. Additionally, Leona Rubin, interim dean of the MU graduate school, has been named MU's associate vice chancellor for graduate studies and the UM System's associate vice president for academic affairs and graduate education.
House subcommittee approves bill that would cut NSF social science research
A House of Representatives subcommittee on Wednesday advanced legislation that would keep total funding targets for the National Science Foundation at roughly their current levels but would slash the agency's budget for social and behavioral science research. The panel approved a bill that would authorize a $7.28 billion overall budget for the NSF in the 2015 fiscal year that begins this October, which represents a 1.5 percent increase from its current level. The proposal, in a departure from the most recent authorizations of the NSF, also seeks to set funding targets for each individual directorate within the agency. Congress could still set different funding levels through the appropriations process, but the authorizing legislation can set the direction for an agency. And in this case, that's a direction opposed by many researchers in fields that rely on the NSF.
Director of Research Integrity Resigns, Citing Frustration With Federal Bureaucracy
The director of the federal Office of Research Integrity, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that is responsible for monitoring alleged research misconduct, has resigned, citing what he called the "stifling" nature of the federal bureaucracy, Science magazine has reported. In his resignation letter, David E. Wright said that working with the research community and the "brilliant scientist-investigators" in his office had been a highlight of his career. But he said such work took up only about 35 percent of his time. The rest of his time as ORI's director, he said, had been spent "navigating the remarkably dysfunctional HHS bureaucracy to secure resources and, yes, get permission for ORI to serve the research community."
Student advocacy group blames state disinvestment for tuition increases
Public university students frustrated about burgeoning debt and steadily rising tuition prices often direct their anger at campus leaders, agitating about bloated administrative spending or salaries or misguided cuts in services. A new campaign by the organization known as Young Invincibles suggests that they're "complaining about the wrong people," says Tom Allison, the group's policy and research manager. With the release Thursday of report cards gauging each state's investment in higher education, Young Invincibles' Student Impact Project essentially asserts that for public institutions, at least, blame for rising tuitions falls overwhelmingly on legislators and governors, not presidents and trustees. That's a case that many college leaders have been making for some time, but when they say it, it comes across as self-interested and defensive.
Google Under Fire for Data-Mining Student Email Messages
As part of a potentially explosive lawsuit making its way through federal court, giant online-services provider Google has acknowledged scanning the contents of millions of email messages sent and received by student users of the company's Apps for Education tool suite for schools. In the suit, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company also faces accusations from plaintiffs that it went further, crossing a "creepy line" by using information gleaned from the scans to build "surreptitious" profiles of Apps for Education users that could be used for such purposes as targeted advertising.
Obama cracks down on for-profit colleges
The Obama administration on Thursday took an aggressive step to crack down on for-profit career training colleges, proposing a regulatory regimen that could shut down hundreds of degree programs -- enrolling a million students in fields ranging from accounting to air-conditioning repair -- for failing to place graduates in well-paying jobs. The administration framed the move as a bold step to protect Americans from predatory institutions that leave students with high debt and few marketable skills. For-profit colleges, however, rejected the regulation as an unacceptable -- and possibly illegal -- federal intrusion into the private sector. Some Republicans in Congress weren't happy, either.

Mississippi State opens SEC play at Georgia
Mississippi State had high expectations heading into the season, ranked as high as No. 2 in some polls. But the Bulldogs struggled to a 13-7 record in the first month of the season and fell to 24th in the Baseball America poll. MSU begins the SEC portion of the slate at Georgia this weekend. The series starts today at 6 p.m. "This is definitely something we've been looking forward to," said MSU centerfielder Jake Vickerson. "It's just a clean start for us. We know this is the most important time of the year. We're just trying to go down there and get some wins."
Ole Miss rallies past Mississippi State
Marshall Henderson and Jarvis Summers each scored 21 points and Ole Miss rallied from a deficit of 13 points to beat Mississippi State 78-66 in the second round of the SEC tournament on Thursday night. It was only the second time the Bulldogs and Rebels played in the SEC tournament, following a 73-64 win over the Rebels in the 2003 tournament.

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