Wednesday, June 11, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
MSU Hosts Horticulture Summer Camp
High school students with a taste for growing are getting a glimpse of the field this week. Tuesday marked the third day of Mississippi State University's hands-on Horticulture and Landscape Architecture Summer Camp. The camp highlights plant identification, soils, home gardening, floral design, as well as vegetable and fruit production. Twenty-three students are taking part in the camp.
Power Outage Forces Group In Raymond To Scramble
Downed power lines and broken power poles knocked out traffic lights near Raymond, turning intersections into four way stops on Tuesday. And over at the nearby Mississippi State University's Extension Service office, the power outage left dark a meeting room to be used for a long-planned teachers workshop. "We've been without power all morning; it looks like throughout the day," said Lynn Porter, Hinds County Soil and Water Conservation District Administrator. The outage forced organizers to carry on the environmental education training outside the building.
Hull named new Philadelphia schools superintendent
A longtime administrator with the Lauderdale County School District was appointed Tuesday afternoon in a unanimous decision as the new superintendent of the Philadelphia Public School District. Lisa Hull, federal projects coordinator for the Lauderdale District, was appointed superintendent, School Board President Harold Coburn announced after 5 p.m. in a press release. She has completed all coursework for the Ph. D. in educational leadership from Mississippi State University and holds an educational specialist's degree from Mississippi State.
Entergy seeks new rate plan in Mississippi
Entergy Corp. asked Mississippi regulators Tuesday to overhaul the power provider's entire rate structure in a proposal that would generate an estimated $49 million increase in annual revenue. "This is the first general rate case filing we've had with the Mississippi Public Service Commission in 12 years," CEO Haley Fisackerly told The Associated Press. "Every so often, when you go through a lot of changes, you have to reset." Changes are likely as the separate Public Utilities Staff evaluates the plan before sending it to the three-member Public Service Commission.
Mississippi drops to nation's 6th largest casino market
The average person who visits a casino is a homeowner, middle class, college educated, attends church -- and thinks casinos should be taxed like other businesses, according to a survey by the American Gaming Association. The results released Tuesday put numbers behind the AGA's campaign to support pro-casino legislation that "protects jobs and promotes innovation." Competition is hurting some markets, including Mississippi's. For years the third largest market in the country behind Nevada and New Jersey, Mississippi was sixth in 2013 after gross casino revenue dropped 5 percent to $2.25 billion. Louisiana moved up to fourth place last year.
Cochran goes on offensive, calls McDaniel 'an extremist,' 'dangerous'
After months of milquetoast statements and letting surrogates do any campaign trash talking, incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran went on the offensive in Hattiesburg on Tuesday, calling his opponent Chris McDaniel "an extremist" who would hurt Mississippi with indiscriminate cuts to federal spending. On Tuesday, stops included Forrest General Hospital and the University of Southern Mississippi School of Nursing -- for which he helped secure $3 million in federal money to build a new nursing school building. If the Katrina relief, Cochran noted he worked hard with others in the state delegation to help save the Gulf Coast from ruin after Katrina. "(McDaniel) is trying to indict that kind of power and influence in Washington?" Cochran said. "It would be dangerous to have somebody like him elected."
U.S. Senate candidates sling zingers
Candidates barreling towards a June 24 runoff for the U.S. Senate Republican nomination traded barbs Tuesday. During a stop at Spaceway truck stop in the community of Meehan, state Sen. Chris McDaniel counted U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran among what he called "some Republicans in Washington who have become too cozy with power." Cochran, a six-term incumbent, visited Forrest General Hospital and the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. Cochran says it would "dangerous" to elect McDaniel, who has criticized Cochran's role in federal spending. McDaniel fired back Tuesday, calling Cochran's voting record "liberal." Cochran defended his voting record and his conservative values in an email to The Meridian Star earlier in the campaign.
DA: No criminal investigation in courthouse case
Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith says his investigation into how a staffer for state Sen. Chris McDaniel's U.S. Senate campaign and two other McDaniel supporters ended up locked inside the county courthouse the night of the June 3 primary election night isn't criminal in nature. "I'm not aiming for criminal charges," Smith said Tuesday. "We are looking at security issues." Smith said his investigation will likely be concluded in less than two weeks and that he will build upon what the sheriff's department had already done. Smith said looking at courthouse security is warranted after the incident because of the numerous delicate files stored in the courthouse, including those in his office.
Rand Paul to steer clear of Mississippi runoff
Sen. Rand Paul says he's staying out of the Senate runoff this month in Mississippi, where tea party favorite Chris McDaniel is favored against long-time Republican Sen. Thad Cochran in Mississippi. "We're not going to get involved" in the June 24 election, the Kentucky Republican, a tea party favorite himself who's likely going to run for president in 2016, told a handful of reporters in the Capitol. The runoff race puts Republicans like Paul in an awkward spot. While McDaniel's bid has galvanized the right wing, Cochran is viewed by the party establishment as the GOP's best shot at keeping the Mississippi Senate seat in Republican hands. So for many conservatives eying higher office, including Paul and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, it makes sense to stay out of the fray entirely.
GOP strategists try to assess impact of Cantor loss on other primaries
The shock waves from the stunning defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) reverberated quickly across the Republican Party Tuesday night, as tea party and establishment strategists tried to assess the possible impact on upcoming primaries and on the overall state of the GOP. The results from Virginia emboldened tea party advocates and enthusiasts, who suffered several high-profile defeats in intraparty contests this spring. It also put the establishment on notice that the long-running struggle inside the party will continue beyond this year's campaigns and into the 2016 elections. But establishment strategists said Cantor's loss to conservative David Brat may have been the result of particular circumstances that cannot easily be replicated in other races.
Graham easily wins GOP nomination in South Carolina
No, thanks, S.C. Republicans said Tuesday, deciding they will stick with Lindsey Graham despite loud criticisms from a vocal minority. That message echoed in Tuesday's GOP primary, as voters pushed Graham past half the vote, keeping him out of a June 24 runoff against the largest field of opponents he ever has faced. Graham's six GOP challengers predicted the primary would be a referendum on the two-term incumbent's record. Instead, Republican voters bucked Tea Party dissenters and gave Graham roughly 60 percent of the vote, lending credence to criticism the "anybody-but-Graham" movement is driven by a vocal but small minority. "What my opponents saw as my biggest fault, which was trying to solve a problem, South Carolina Republicans saw as my greatest asset," Graham said celebrating Tuesday's win at the Hilton in Columbia, promising to continue working across the aisle. Read more here:
Heavy issues remain, but light attire returns to Congress
The economy is no longer careening toward the edge of a cliff at the hands of Congress. So with that pressure lifted, members can revisit a lighter time --- literally. In June 2012, the Senate shut down a decade and a half tradition of its members donning, on the same day, seersucker suits. With so much tension on the Hill, the senators determined it inappropriate to celebrate something so frivolous as fashion. There's still a fair share of conflict to go around, but one brave member of Congress has stepped up and declared the two-year moratorium over. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), taking a break from trying to unseat Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), issued a proclamation last month to designate June 11 as National Seersucker Day. The Senate tradition, started in the late 1990s by then-Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), was held on a Thursday, usually the third week in June, in time for Washington's swamp-like summer weather conditions.
Book tour fuss a double-edged sword for Hillary Clinton
The world may have to wait until 2015 for Hillary Rodham Clinton's decision on whether she runs again for president, but the last 48 hours have offered a preview in miniature of what that campaign would look like -- with all its advantages and burdens. With Tuesday's splashy publication of her new memoir, "Hard Choices," Clinton demonstrated the unprecedented attention she would draw, with wall-to-wall coverage on every television network in which she tossed off zingers and parried unwanted questions. Hours before she breezed onto the set of ABC's "Good Morning America," breathless fans were lined up for blocks around a bookstore in New York's Union Square (some having waited since Monday) in hopes of getting orange wristbands that would give them a chance to have their copies signed in person. But the downside of the heavy scrutiny was also apparent.
Southern Baptists elect president, approve transgender resolution
An Arkansas megachurch pastor was elected Tuesday to lead the country's Southern Baptists as the conservative denomination tries to turn around declining membership, church attendance and baptisms and faces increasing conflict with mainstream culture, especially over its conviction that gay sex is immoral. Also on Tuesday, the nation's largest Protestant denomination approved a resolution opposing the idea that gender identity can be different from biological sex. The group declined to consider a motion made from the floor by one delegate asking that a Southern California church be disciplined for perceived support of homosexuality. Denomination officials ruled the motion out of order.
10 most corrupt states in America
When we think of government corruption (as one tends to do), our biased minds often gravitate to thoughts of military juntas and third world governments. But, of course, corruption is everywhere, in one form or another. And it's costing U.S. citizens big time. A new study from researchers at the University of Hong Kong and Indiana University estimates that corruption on the state level is costing Americans in the 10 most corrupt states an average of $1,308 per year, or 5.2% of those states' average expenditures per year. The researchers studied more than 25,000 convictions of public officials for violation of federal corruption laws between 1976 and 2008 as well as patterns in state spending to develop a corruption index that estimates the most and least corrupt states in the union.
Obama plan would hurt HIV program at UMMC
The program that last year cured a baby of HIV faces an uncertain future pending proposed changes to the federal program that funds it. The University of Mississippi's Pediatric/Perinatal HIV Program would lose the majority of its budget under a plan by President Barack Obama to streamline the 24-year-old Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, which allocates $1.9 billion annually to HIV/AIDS treatment programs. UMMC receives approximately $500,000 annually from the Ryan White grant, with most of those funds supporting salaries. If that money dries up, both UMMC's program and its patients face potential harm, said pediatric HIV specialist Dr. Hannah Gay, who led the team that cured the HIV-positive baby.
SGA urges Co-Lin Community College to go smoke-free
The Copiah-Lincoln Community College Student Government Association is pushing for a smoke-free campus. A letter from the SGA president was presented at the Co-Lin Board of Trustees meeting Thursday afternoon, requesting a campus policy to go into effect starting August 2014 or January 2015 at the latest. The SGA unanimously approved the proposal at its last meeting. Co-Lin President Dr. Ronnie Nettles said the board polled the campus two years ago to find the public opinion on the same issue. The majority of faculty, staff and students felt the campus should be smoke-free.
U. of Kentucky trustees approve $3 billion budget; less than 10 percent from state
The University of Kentucky's operating budget will hit two milestones in the upcoming fiscal year -- its total will reach $3 billion for the first time and state support will slip below 10 percent for the first time. UK's Board of Trustees approved the record-breaking budget Tuesday without discussion. Most of UK's growth has been fueled by UK HealthCare, which reached revenue of $1.1 billion this year. Also fueling growth at UK is a 10 percent increase in student enrollment in the past decade; this year's freshman class is projected to be a record 4,800 students.
Kentucky takes big step toward outsourcing dining services to Aramark
The University of Kentucky is poised to sign a sweeping contract to replace its in-house dining services with those of a multinational corporation that will provide the university with tens of millions of dollars in new dining areas and several perks. The proposed 15-year contract with Aramark would guarantee about $245 million in buildings, renovations and commissions to UK while lowering current dining prices for students. The UK Board of Trustees approved Tuesday the construction piece of the contract, which paves the way for university officials to sign the entire agreement.
U. of Florida joins online university consortium
The University of Florida has joined a consortium of public research universities looking to develop a "learning ecosystem" that would enable them to seize control of their online learning programs and map out their own future. The consortium, called Unizin, will allow UF and three other universities -- Indiana University, University of Michigan and Colorado State University -- to pool their resources instead of going it alone in the creation of online educational programs, saving each university money and speeding the development of their online programs. "It is important for UF to address large infrastructure needs in online education in a coordinated and integrated fashion," Provost Joe Glover said via email.
U. of Arkansas to Offer First Start-to-Finish Online Bachelor's Degree
Starting this fall, the University of Arkansas will offer its first start-to-finish online bachelor's degree program. The first degree offered will be a bachelor's degree in business administration from the Sam M. Walton College of Business. This online offering is the latest of 29 degree, licensure and certificate programs offered completely or primarily online through the UA Global Campus. "This growth -- especially in online bachelor's degree programs -- is in line with the university's goals to meet students' needs and with the state's efforts to double the number of citizens who hold bachelor's degrees by 2025," Javier A. Reyes, vice provost for distance education at the university, said.
U. of Missouri to hire two full-time employees to address sexual assault cases
In an effort to better address sexual assault allegations on campus, University of Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced the university will hire a full-time Title IX coordinator and add a full-time investigator. Linda Bennett, associate education professor, was named interim Title IX coordinator last week. A search is in progress for the investigator. Loftin said he hopes to have the hiring, organization and training done by the start of the fall semester. The investigator likely will be hired before the coordinator. Loftin's plan is for the full-time Title IX coordinator to handle reports of sexual assault as well as training for mandated reporters.
Missouri residence halls added to regular inspection cycle
The University of Missouri's auxiliary buildings -- residence halls, dining halls and student unions -- will be subject to regularly scheduled building assessments by an outside firm, the university has decided. These buildings will be added to a cycle of "facilities condition assessments," which are done every year by a Georgia firm called ISES Corp., MU Campus Facilities Manager of Communications Karlan Seville said in an email Wednesday. "This puts every building on a regular inspection cycle," MU spokesman Christian Basi said.
Senate Panel Approves Budget Increases for Pell Grants and NIH in 2015
Senate appropriators approved a spending bill on Tuesday that would increase the maximum Pell Grant by $1,000, to $5,830, and provide an additional $606-million to the National Institutes of Health in the 2015 fiscal year. Tuesday's work on the measure, known as a markup, was the final one for Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat who has led the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education or has served as its ranking member for 25 years and is retiring this year. Mr. Harkin said he was proud of his final legislation, calling it a "good bill with bipartisan priorities."
Obama Defends College Ratings
A bipartisan pair of Congressional lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives opposing the Obama administration's college ratings system. The president, meanwhile, defended the proposal as a necessary tool for students. The resolution, by Representatives Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and Michael Capuano of Massachusetts, Republican and Democrat, respectively, criticizes the ratings system as "reductionist" and warns that the government's ratings would "carry an image of validity that will mislead" prospective students. The administration has said that even without any funding from Congress, it plans to produce a draft of the plan for public comment by this fall.
Colleges Focus on Alcohol and Drugs as Serious Crime Dips
Colleges have become more aggressive about punishing alcohol and drug offenses, even as the rate of serious crime on campuses has dropped, according to a government report released Tuesday. The annual report from the Education and Justice Departments found that in 2011, colleges and universities started disciplinary proceedings for alcohol or drug offenses against 162 of every 10,000 students, not including those who were arrested. That was up from 132 in 2001. The increase in disciplinary actions "doesn't reflect actual increased offenses; it's about stepped-up enforcement," said S. Daniel Carter, of the VTV Family Outreach Foundation, a nonprofit group dedicated to campus safety. "Typically, when something gets to the point of a liquor law violation being enforced, it's not just a kid having a beer in his room -- it has escalated to something bigger."
Florida State faculty union wants presidential search to start over
The faculty union at Florida State University wants the search for a new university president to start over, with additional emphasis placed on applicants having "strong academic credentials." The FSU chapter of the United Faculty of Florida issued a release Tuesday that called the manner in which the search has been conducted so far "inappropriate and highly unusual," and said the process "appears to be tainted by political maneuvering." The union's request came a day after the abrupt resignation of William "Bill" Funk, a Dallas-based consultant brought in to help find FSU a new president. The committee is also set to reopen the application process Wednesday.
Sewanee reverses same-sex ceremony ruling
Caught between the Episcopal Church's official policy and the protests of alumni, faculty and students, Sewanee: The University of the South has struck a compromise that could set a precedent for religious universities' approach to same-sex ceremonies across the country. A same-sex couple will be allowed a ceremony that proclaims lifelong commitment this fall in All Saints' Chapel, the nearly cathedral-sized church on Sewanee's campus -- despite the fact they are already married.
Common Core, battered by midterm politics, gets higher-ed support -- too late?
A new coalition of Common Core supporters, this time from the higher-education community, announced itself Tuesday. Its mission: to raise awareness about the importance of the standards and try to counter the spread of misinformation and the growing backlash against the standards. It's a battle that has become central in the education world lately, and is spilling out into more general debate, as Common Core becomes a key issue in many midterm campaigns. "There are a lot of myths out there, and bad information," said John Morgan, chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, in a phone call with reporters to announce a new higher-ed coalition in support of Common Core, Higher Ed for Higher Standards. "When you really explain to people this is about college-ready standards, not about how to teach or about curriculum ... that's a message that resonates."
California ruling on teacher tenure could fuel national debate
A first-of-its-kind court ruling that concluded California's union-backed teacher tenure, layoff and dismissal laws infringe on students' rights to an equal public education adds fire to a debate over whether the job protections afforded professional educators are partly to blame for what ails the nation's schools, experts said. A judge in Los Angeles on Tuesday sided with nine students who sued to overturn the state statutes governing teacher hiring and firing, saying they served no compelling purpose and had led to an unfair, nonsensical system that drove excellent new teachers from the classroom too soon while allowing incompetent senior ones to remain.
OUR OPINION: Federal education funds critical to state's schools
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal editorializes: "Issues affecting Mississippi stand at the center of this year's campaigns for United States senator, and few would have predicted that federal spending for our state's public schools, community colleges and universities would rise to passion and prominence. ...We editorially criticized McDaniel's statement opposing federal funding for education when it was reported in April, and Cochran supporters have appropriately, if belatedly, made it an issue in the runoff. McDaniel has offered no way to replace that approximately $1.5 billion in federal funds coming into the state to support its education system at all levels. He has recklessly suggested that the state could absorb those drastic cuts without any serious impact. ...Universities, it's fair to say, would be devastated by the loss of $400 million in federal funds."
BRIAN PERRY (OPINION): Most of the results are in
Consultant and columnist Brian Perry writes: "The Mississippi primary results are in, well, most of them. The Republican Primary for U.S. Senate continues toward a June 24 run-off between incumbent Senator Thad Cochran and challenger Chris McDaniel after Thomas Carey of Hernando pulled around 2 percent of the vote and prevented either candidate from receiving a majority. Democrats in Mississippi's Third Congressional District also will return to the polls June 24 in a run-off to determine the challenger against Republican Congressman Gregg Harper. Meanwhile Harper cruised to victory in his own primary taking 92 percent of the vote against perennial candidate Hardy Caraway."
BOBBY HARRISON (OPINION): Federal education funding issue has its political ironies
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "It is at least a bit ironic to see former Gov. Haley Barbour using public education as the issue to attempt to ride to the political rescue of incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran. Cochran, a six-term incumbent, faces the political fight of his lengthy political career in the Republican primary runoff against state Sen. Chris McDaniel, a Tea Party favorite. ...With Cochran's political life in real doubt, Barbour has stepped up to maintain McDaniel is far out of the mainstream because he has said he opposes all federal education spending going to the states. McDaniel says under the U.S. Constitution, education is a function of the state and local governments. Barbour said eliminating federal funding would destroy public education in Mississippi."
SID SALTER (OPINION): Figures show small signs of improving economy
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "How bad and how pervasive was the latest recession? Well, it was deep enough that every state in the union saw an increase in the number of food stamp recipients. The good news is that food stamp utilization is down in Mississippi in 2014 by about 1.6 percent or some 10,000 recipients. Household benefits are down in 2014 by some $21 per household monthly on average. Some of those declines are based on an improving economy in Mississippi as the prolonged economic recession finally stabilized. ...In addition to incremental but solid reductions in food stamp dependence, Mississippi is also seeing incremental revenue surpluses and increases in tax collections in excess of the revenue projections. In the poorest state in the union, those numbers spell a little good news about the trajectory of the state's economy."

Times released for Mississippi State's first three games
Mississippi State released start times for its first three football games this season on Tuesday. MSU opens the season against Southern Miss on Aug. 30 in the newly renovated Davis Wade Stadium at 6:30 p.m. It will air nationally on the SEC Network. A week later on Sept. 6, the Bulldogs welcome UAB to Starkville for a 1 p.m. kickoff on Fox Sports Net. The Bulldogs' Sept. 13 kickoff at South Alabama will be televised on ESPNews at 3 p.m.
Mississippi State duo to begin competition at nationals Wednesday
No one has been better in the 800-meter run all year than Brandon McBride. And this week, his goal is to make sure that feat doesn't change. On Wednesday, McBride and Cornelia Griesche begin their quest for individual titles at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Oregon's historic Hayward Field. For McBride, a sophomore from Windsor, Ontario, he's going for the sweep. The SEC champ also won the national indoor crown back in March. Griesche, a sophomore from Ingolstadt, Germany, is making her first appearance on the national the scene.
Bertman: Parity has watered down college baseball
The array of teams set for the College World Series beginning this week could leave the impression that college baseball has become an equal-opportunity sport. Whether it has evolved or devolved is a matter of opinion. "I played in Omaha in 1960 and 1961 (for USC), and you could name on both hands all the schools in the country that were playing good baseball," UC Irvine coach Mike Gillespie said. "You couldn't name all the schools playing good baseball now if you had 10 sets of hands. I think that's good." Skip Bertman, who retired as LSU's coach in 2001 after winning five national titles, isn't so sure. "The product now is the poster sport for parity," he said. "That may make some people happy. In my opinion, it's watered down."
UGA athletic administrator leaving for AD job at Millsaps
Georgia is set to lose one of its top young athletic administrators. Josh Brooks, associate athletic director for internal operations, is expected to be announced as the new athletic director at Millsaps College, an NCAA Division III school in Jackson, Miss. Athletic director Greg McGarity has called the 34-year old Brooks a "rising star in athletic administration." Brooks, a Hammond, La., native, was a finalist last year for the AD job at Louisiana-Monroe.
A Tough Day in Court for NCAA
The NCAA had a bruising day in court Tuesday as it worked to defend rules that prohibit athletes from getting paid. Leading up to the trial, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken was tough on the organization, pre-emptively batting down some of the NCAA's key arguments. Things haven't been any easier with the trial underway. Wilken shot down almost all of the numerous objections mounted by NCAA attorneys in the two days the case has been on trial. When the NCAA initially failed to produce a copy of a document under discussion, Wilken elicited an apology from the NCAA's outside counsel, Rohit Singla of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP. And Wilken expressed exasperation several times, at one point telling Singla to "use actual meaningful words" and later telling him he wasn't asking "an actual question."
LOGAN LOWERY (OPINION): Bulldogs' aggressive recruiting paying off
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Logan Lowery writes: "There has been a lot of football recruiting news out of Bulldogs Country in the past week. Let's cut to the chase: Mississippi State is enjoying one of its most successful recruiting classes ever. The Bulldogs added six commitments to the fold last week bringing their 2015 total to 16, which ranks sixth nationally according to ...This year it appears the Bulldogs are taking a more aggressive approach on the recruiting trail. Mississippi State's class currently consists of six four-star prospects -- five of which are from in-state schools."

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