Tuesday, April 8, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Corrections reform among session's crowning bills
Two key lawmakers with different political affiliations agreed Monday that the sweeping corrections and criminal justice reform bill and a teacher pay raise were the two main highlights of the 2014 Legislature. But the Democrat and Republican had vastly different views on the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act that passed. Sen. David Blount and Rep. Andy Gipson gave their take on highlights from the 2014 Legislature during presentations at the Stennis Institute-Capitol Press Luncheon.
Mississippi Lawmakers Have Mixed Feelings On 2014 Session
As the state continues to prepare for a myriad of new laws and reforms, legislators are taking the time to reflect on the 2014 legislative session. Republican Rep. Andy Gipson of Braxton says he believes Mississippi made great strides this session. Democratic Sen. David Blount of Jackson says lawmakers should have done more to expand Medicaid.
MSU Men Stand Up (in Heels) Against Sexual Assault
Some courageous men at Mississippi State University stepped out of their comfort zones on Monday and walked in women's shoes for a worthy cause. Hundreds of men put on high heeled shoes and took a walk around the Junction at MSU. The walk is a part of an international campaign to raise awareness about rape prevention, sexual assault and other forms of gender violence. This is an annual event at Mississippi State, and this year the walk was lead by Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman. The event is sponsored by MSU's Health Education and Wellness Department.
Students Attend 'The Orchestra Moves' to Sing, Play
More than 1,000 elementary and middle-school students from throughout the Golden Triangle participated recently in "The Orchestra Moves," a program that gave young people an opportunity to sing and play musical instruments along with the MSU Philharmonia. One of three Carnegie Hall Weill Music Institute Link Up curricula, the class held at First Baptist Church in Starkville provided second through sixth-grade students with a recorder or string instrument to play from their seats as 60 Philharmonia members performed in collaboration. Richard Human, associate professor of low brass and MSU Philharmonia conductor, said area students had been learning about orchestral music, instrument families, music composers and eight pieces of music since October.
Special ed pick awaits board approval
State education officials hope to announce next week the person they picked to oversee Mississippi's troubled special education bureau, but some advocates for these students say a flawed hiring process will hinder any hope for improvement. State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright said she will present her nomination to the Board of Education when it meets April 17 and 18. The candidate, whom Wright would not name until winning board approval, is a Mississippi resident who was culled from a list of 132 job applicants from across the country responding to an ad the agency placed starting in early February. "I am quite confident in our choice," Wright said.
Should Mississippi adopt online voter registration?
A new report by a nonpartisan public policy group says Americans spent an average of three minutes less standing in line to vote in the 2012 presidential election than they did four years earlier. An exception was Florida, where the wait increased by 16 minutes. The report by Pew Charitable Trusts, released Tuesday, said states generally did a better job of handling elections in 2012 than in 2008. It examined 17 points about election administration, including the percentage of provisional ballots cast, the proportion of voter-registration applications rejected and the percentage of people 18 and older who voted.
State passes incentive program for air service
An incentive plan passed by the state Legislature and signed by Gov. Phil Bryant last week ties increases in air service at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport and other airports in the state with advertising for the new or enhanced flights. Senate Bill 2785 authorized the creation of Mississippi Air Service Development Program and gets the state involved in an important facet of economic development, said Clay Williams, director of the Gulfport airport. The bill didn't provide funding for the program this year but Williams said Mississippi Airports Association, which endorsed and promoted the bill, will go back to the legislature next year to seek funding. House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, and Sen. Sean Tindell, R-Gulfport, sponsored the legislation.
Political ads continue to heat up in Thad Cochran-Chris McDaniel U.S. Senate race
Out-of-state groups on Monday continued pouring money into Mississippi's Republican primary, criticizing Sen. Thad Cochran for staying in office too long. The six-term lawmaker responded with his own ads against challenger Chris McDaniel. The new wave of ads suggest Cochran could face trouble in his June 3 primary, and that McDaniel, a state senator, may be emerging as the best shot for tea party-aligned groups to unseat an incumbent Republican in a primary this year. Cochran, who hasn't faced a real campaign in decades, recently has started working to defend his seat and his latest ad is his first negative spot of this election.
Former Gov. Barbour: Cochran a 'Giant' For Mississippi
Former Gov. Haley Barbour says Mississippians would benefit greatly by supporting incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran in his primary race to maintain his seat. Barbour, who has endorsed Cochran, says if Republicans regain control of the Senate, Cochran will likely become chair of the influential Appropriations committee, which is a position he held in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. "Thad Cochran was the giant who stood up for Mississippi and got us what we needed. He was the person who did more than anybody else. I will never forget that and Mississippi will never forget that," Barbour said.
Club for Growth hits Cochran in Mississippi ad
Conservative groups are ganging up on the airwaves against Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), but he's still fighting back for his political life ahead of his June primary. The Club for Growth is hitting Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) with a six-figure ad buy that attempts to align him with President Obama, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. Cochran released his own ad Monday blasting his primary challenger for initial comments he made suggesting he wouldn't have voted for Mississippi disaster relief after Hurricane Katrina. "If Chris McDaniel won't do anything for Mississippi, why should Mississippians do anything for Chris McDaniel," the narrator says in the ad.
McDaniel brings campaign to Harrison County Republicans
State Sen. Chris McDaniel echoed the latest Club For Growth ad in his appearance before the Harrison County Republican Women on Monday at the Yacht Club. He started with familiar stump speech fare: "millions feel like strangers in this land ... I barely recognize this country, my father certainly would not and his father would be appalled ... our culture has degraded ... we've become two countries, two people." "Now Sen. (Thad) Cochran, I like him," he said. "I think he's a kind person. I've known him my entire life. He's been up there since I've been alive. But he doesn't share my vision for this country," McDaniel said.
Mercedes-Benz employees testify against automaker in hearing on union campaign interference at Alabama plant
Three employees of Alabama's Mercedes-Benz plant who support a United Auto Workers campaign there said Monday that the company has kept them from exercising their rights to talk about union activities in the workplace. The employees testified in a hearing on charges that the German automaker has interfered with the UAW campaign. The hearing, which is being held before a National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge in the agency's Birmingham office, resumes today. Pro-union employees have accused Mercedes of harassment and intimidation in the campaign. But lawyers for the German automaker said Monday that the company has gone further than it ever has previously in allowing union materials to be distributed at the Tuscaloosa County plant.
Volkswagen expansion talks at standstill in Tennessee
Expansion talks at Volkswagen's lone U.S. plant have ground to a halt amid disagreements about the role of organized labor at the factory in Tennessee. An acrimonious vote in February at the plant in Chattanooga resulted in the narrow defeat of the United Auto Workers union. Since then, the union has challenged the outcome of the vote with the National Labor Relations Board; a top labor representative on Volkswagen's supervisory board told Chattanooga workers that U.S. Sen. Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam "interfered outrageously" in the election; and the governor has suggested that the state has been unable to engage in negotiations with a VW official with final decision-making power.
U. of Southern Mississippi student charged in stabbing
A University of Southern Mississippi student has been charged with aggravated assault after a stabbing incident that took place over the weekend on the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house front porch. Elijah Dollar, 22, of Ocean Springs, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, after allegedly stabbing another fraternity member in the shoulder around 1 a.m. Sunday morning. The victim was transported to an area hospital and released that day. He is now resting at home, according to Southern Miss Police Detective Rusty Keyes. Keyes added the incident is still under investigation.
Father files $10M lawsuit over 2012 drowning of U. of Alabama student who fell off riverboat
The family of a University of Alabama student who drowned in the Black Warrior River in April 2012 has filed a $10 million wrongful death lawsuit days before Alabama's statute of limitations would have prevented them from doing so. Charles Jones is the father of Tre Jones, a 20-year-old University of Alabama student who fell into the river during a sorority's party on the Bama Belle riverboat in April 2012. He filed the lawsuit Friday and wants $10 million for his son's death, claiming that several parties should be held responsible for it. Included in the defendants Charles Jones named in the lawsuit are the Tuskaloosa Riverboat Company, who owned and operated the Bama Belle at the time; Stand Alone Security, a local company hired to keep the party safe and prevent minors from drinking on the boat; and the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, who hosted the riverboat party.
U. of Florida trustees to begin search for Machen's successor
Perhaps the second time will be the charm. More than a year after the state suspended its search for someone to lead the flagship University of Florida after President Bernie Machen was to retire last December, the board of trustees is reconvening a committee to find his replacement for a second time. Machen, who delayed his retirement at the request of Gov. Rick Scott and the board of trustees, is scheduled to step down Dec. 31 for good. Asked via email late Monday if there were any circumstances under which he would stay beyond Dec. 31, Machen replied with one word: "No."
'Happiness Program' bringing yoga, meditation techniques to Florida campus
The evening Camille Mekwinski learned about a course called YES+ being offered on the University of Florida campus, she had a "statics" assignment due later that night. "I went to an intro session. It was great --- we learned a breathing technique and did a little bit of yoga and meditation," said Mekwinski, now a UF senior in environmental engineering. "Afterwards I felt really relaxed, which was good because I was getting really stressed out about my assignment. (The intro session) helped clear my mind." Mekwinski's experience is, in a nutshell, what the course aims to do.
Parking costs for U. of South Carolina students could soar following lot closure
The University of South Carolina on Monday permanently closed a popular 450-car parking lot behind the Carolina Coliseum to make way for a new student housing project. Students who pay up to $60 a semester to park in the lot at Park Street and Blossom Street can use their decals to park in the Discovery parking garage at the same price for the rest of the semester. But they could face significant increases in parking fees next semester. The garage, located a block away from what had been called "Lot C," normally costs $340 per semester – a 467 percent increase from current surface lot rates.
U. of Arkansas Energy Efficiency Project Yields Better Than Expected Results
A University of Arkansas project to save money on energy costs has saved 24 percent more than expected between 2012 and 2013. Razors EDGE, standing for Efficiently Delivering Green Energy, saved the university $3.7 million in energy costs in the two years. The project was a $30 million undertaking designed and installed by Energy Systems Group, an energy services provider and wholly-owned subsidiary of Vectren Corp. (NYSE: VVC). The project aims to reduce energy use of the 73 buildings on the Fayetteville campus. From 2012-13, facilities management figures show the university saved about $715,000 more than guaranteed, the UA said.
UGA student charged with burglarizing, damaging frat house
A University of Georgia student was arrested Sunday morning after he illegally entered the Tau Epsilon Phi fraternity house and damaged the inside of the basement by spraying paint on the walls and discharging a fire extinguisher, UGA police said. James Dylan Roll, 19, of Kennesaw, was charged with first-degree burglary, felony criminal damage to property, underage consumption of alcohol and possession of false identification, police said. Roll did not break into the TEP house off River Road, but he was not authorized to be there, according to police. Roll has had previous run-ins with the law.
Duke admissions director highlights need for minorities in medicine
Before Brenda Armstrong became director of admissions at Duke University Medical Center, she sat in as university officials reviewed admissions applications. She was taken aback when someone mentioned an applicant had attended a "colored school." She said, "What's a colored school? A red school? A blue school?" Armstrong, who said she attended a "colored school" herself, was offended not only by the comment but also by what it represented: the lack of diversity in medical education. Armstrong's Monday lecture, titled "The Urgency for Diversity in Medical Education: Time to Put Up or Shut Up," comes as the University of Missouri School of Medicine is stepping up its efforts to promote diversity. It still lags behind other Midwestern schools of similar size.
Biden announces new consortium to promote apprenticeships as pathway to college degree
The Obama administration on Monday formally launched a new consortium of colleges, employers and unions that is aimed at making it easier for students to turn their apprenticeship experience into academic credit. Colleges participating in the consortium must agree to provide academic credit to students who complete certain apprenticeship programs. The institutions pledge to follow the credit recommendations made by third-party evaluators, who translate the skills learned during an apprenticeship into credit hours. Vice President Joe Biden announced the initiative in remarks to community college presidents gathered here for the annual conference of the American Association of Community Colleges.
10 Courses With a Twist
Why are so many nonmajors taking "Introduction to Computer Science" at Harvard or "Introductory Oceanography" at Cornell? Why is Temple Grandin's livestock course at Colorado State always filled, and not just with students at home on the range? Some professors can make a subject sing, and their courses are not just a credit but an event. "I've wanted to take it since freshman year," Rhyann Dozier, a Virginia Tech senior, said of "World Regions," taught by John Boyer, whose high-octane style and throwback vibe channels Will Ferrell, turning lectures into performances. What's exciting now is that even universities that prize academic research are putting more emphasis on teaching, says Matthew Kaplan, interim director for the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan.

Setup Pitch: Southern Miss (19-14) vs. 21 Mississippi State (20-13)
No. 21 Mississippi State suffered its first three-game losing streak since the start of Southeastern Conference play last weekend. LSU swept the Bulldogs in Baton Rouge. MSU mustered five runs in the three games. Four of the runs came in a 17-4 loss. It's the first three-game losing streak since the Bulldogs dropped three straight in Arizona earlier in the season. Mississippi State hasn't lost four in a row since 2012. It will try to bust out of its slump with a trip to Jackson to play Southern Miss. The Bulldogs hold the series edge 78-36. The Golden Eagles haven't beaten MSU since 2010.
Mississippi State takes on USM
No. 17 Mississippi State attempts to get back into the win column tonight at Trustmark Park in Pearl against Southern Miss. The annual meeting between the Magnolia State schools is slated for 6:30 p.m. MSU leads the series over the Golden Eagles 78-36 including five straight. The Bulldogs won last year's outing 13-5 at the home of the Mississippi Braves. The Golden Eagles will start sophomore right-hander Cody Carroll (2-0, 2.75) on the mound while State has not announced a starting pitcher.
Eagles to meet rival Mississippi State today
The Southern Miss baseball team makes its second visit this season to Trustmark Park today in Pearl, as the Golden Eagles are set to take on nationally-ranked Mississippi State. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. This will be the only meeting between the two schools this season as the Golden Eagles (19-14) look to snap a five-game losing streak to the Bulldogs. Southern Miss is 13-9 in games played at Trustmark Park dating back to the 2006 campaign. "(Mississippi State) is a very quality club," Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry said. "They're always a big rival. So that's the challenge we have."
MSU Gears Up for Super Bulldog Weekend
The first 10,000 fans in attendance at the Mississippi State Maroon-White Spring Football Game on Saturday will receive a free limited edition Scott Field poster celebrating the 100-year history of the venue from 1914-2014. The poster will be available at the southeast and southwest entrances of Davis Wade Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for noon and gates will open at 10 a.m. Admission is free. The special poster features classic images of Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field dating back to 1923, the 2014 Bulldog football schedule and the new Scott Field centennial celebration logo, which will be used throughout the season. Scott Field first opened in 1914.
Day likely will miss rest of Bulldogs' spring practice
Mississippi State center Dillon Day likely will miss the rest of the football team's spring practice. Day injured his left arm late in Thursday's practice and didn't participate in the team's scrimmage Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium. Day watched the scrimmage from the sidelines with his arm wrapped and in a sling. After the scrimmage, MSU coach Dan Mullen confirmed he didn't expect Day to be cleared for physical contact until fall camp begins in August. He likely won't dress out for the 2014 Maroon-White spring game at noon Saturday. "He'll be fine, but I'm sure he won't do much the rest of the spring," Mullen said.
Mississippi State's Hughes eager for comeback
Jay Hughes got a taste of the starting job at safety in the final three games of the 2012 season for Mississippi State. Hughes trained hard during the offseason to secure the starting role at free safety last fall. However his time as a starter would be short-lived, suffering a season-ending ruptured Achilles in the opener against Oklahoma State. Hughes was off to a good start against the Cowboys having already notched a tackle and broke-up a pass before going down with the injury. "It was devastating and really hurt," Hughes said.
Bulldogs tied for fourth place at Old Waverly Collegiate Championship
Chad Ramey's two rounds seemed to symbolize the entire Mississippi State men's golf team in the first day of their own tournament. Ramey, a MSU senior who was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week on March 18, rebounded from a disappointing finish to his first round to get himself back in a Top 15 scenario individually at the second annual Old Waverly Collegiate Championship, which began Monday. The two-day event ends with the completion of the second round a final round today.

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