Tuesday, June 17, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Mississippi Higher Ed Commissioner on McDaniel: I am deeply concerned
Mississippi Commissioner of Higher Education Hank Bounds is raising questions about comments made by GOP Senate hopeful Chris McDaniel. Bounds said Monday, "I am deeply concerned by the comment that not only should the U.S. Department of Education be abolished, but federal dollars should not flow to the states, because the word 'education' is not in the Constitution." Bounds, who oversees the Mississippi public four-year university system, was referring to a comment made by McDaniel at an April 10 campaign event in Jackson. Bounds said McDaniel's stance could affect $2 billion in federal dollars for elementary and secondary education. "Research dollars that come into this state that focus on things like a cure for HIV, cancer, diabetes and more. The list goes on. If those dollars go away, the research enterprise goes away, and that's troubling," Bounds said.
Kibler named sole finalist in Sul Ross State presidential search
Texas State University System Chancellor Brian McCall named William L. Kibler, Ph.D., sole finalist in the Sul Ross State University presidential search. Dr. Kibler, currently vice president for student affairs at Mississippi State University, was selected from a field of nearly 40 candidates who applied or were nominated for the position. "Dr. Kibler has a passion for students, a deep appreciation for faculty and a vision for Sul Ross that is grounded in excellence," Chancellor McCall said in a press release. "I am confident that Bill will lead the university into a new era and help instill an even greater sense of pride among Sul Ross students, faculty, staff and alumni."
MSU Historical Equipment Restored by Local Company
A 66-year-old piece of forestry equipment on display at Mississippi State University is being restored by the company that built it. The Logger's Dream is a 1948 log loader manufactured by Louisville, Mississippi-based Taylor Machine Works. The equipment has been on display at the biennial Mid-South Forestry Equipment Show at the university's John W. Starr Memorial Forest since 2005. "We are so appreciative of the talents and generosity of the team at Taylor Machine Works and the Massey family," said Misty Booth, show manager and MSU forest supervisor. "The Logger's Dream is a historical treasure that represents our common heritage in the rich forest resources of our area."
Soybean farmers facing issues after planting delayed by rains
Although most of the state's soybeans have been planted, Mississippi farmers will have to deal with the consequences of this spring's wet weather for the rest of the growing season. "We never want to wish away a rain in June," said Trent Irby, Mississippi State University Extension Service soybean specialist. "But growers are and will continue to experience some issues because of the excess rain we've had." Irby estimates the state's largest row crop is 90 percent planted, and some fields are already in the reproductive stage.
Local Students Complete MSU Art Summer Camp
Nine students from throughout the Magnolia State are back home after spending last week at the Mississippi State art department's INvision summer camp. Now in its second year, the visual arts introductory program provided a week-long learning experience for students 16 years and older, as well as incoming freshmen at the university, interested in pursuing academic majors in the studio fields of art and design. Led by department faculty members and students, the camp included a variety of workshops focusing on sculpture, drawing, graphic design, letterpress, bookmaking, papermaking, painting and screen-printing.
Jackson mayor embarks on 'listening tour'
Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber began his seven-ward "listening tour" Monday night, meeting with residents concerning future economic development plans. Dubbed the "We Are Jackson Listening Tour," Yarber, along with other city officials, met residents at Bellwether United Methodist Church to detail City Hall's changes to bring in more business while also hinting at what's to come for Jackson. One development potential could come from a partnership with Mississippi State University and the Jackson Zoo, said Jason Goree, director of economic development. "What we're trying to do with the zoo is to work with institutions like Mississippi State, and ... put an extension of the Mississippi State University veterinary school inside the zoo," said Goree.
Mississippi: Consumers harmed by credit reporting giant
Mississippi has sued credit reporting giant Experian, alleging sweeping errors in the company's data and routine violations of consumer protection laws. Mississippi's action -- and a previously unreported multi-state investigation of credit bureaus led by Ohio -- represent a significant new legal challenge to the industry. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood's complaint against Experian Information Solutions was filed without fanfare last month in a Biloxi state courthouse and transferred to Mississippi federal court late last week. The lawsuit accuses Experian of knowingly including error-riddled data in the credit files of millions of Americans, jeopardizing their ability to obtain loans, employment-related background checks and sensitive government security clearances.
Bill Walker gets maximum prison time in DMR fraud conviction
Bill Walker walked out of federal court dry-eyed and without comment after a federal judge sentenced him Monday to five years in prison for public corruption. The former director of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, who pleaded guilty in March to conspiring to defraud the government, will report to prison after the U.S. Marshals Office notifies him in 60 days or less. U.S. District Court Judge Keith Starrett also ordered Walker to pay a $125,000 fine and $572,689.14 in restitution. Once a trusted scientific advisor to state leaders, Walker headed the state agency responsible for conserving coastal resources from 2002 until the Commission on Marine Resources fired him in January 2013, after federal and state investigations of agency spending were well under way.
Dueling continues as McDaniel stumps in Jackson County, Cochran in Meridian
Sen. Thad Cochran and challenger Chris McDaniel spent Monday dueling across Mississippi, each insisting they were better suited to be influential in Washington. Cochran visited Meridian to make two emphatic points: He's had it with the mudslinging, and he's got support among voters born after he took office. McDaniel went in another direction: To crucial Jackson County, making three public stops. In a week, their slugfest for the Republican Senate nomination ends with the runoff election. Cochran, first elected to the House of Representatives in 1972 and to the Senate six years later, made an unusual campaign appearance in a Union Station meeting room. He spoke from a podium, instead of his usual meet-and-greet style, and had some sharp words for McDaniel and his backers.
Cochran supporters hold rally in Hattiesburg
Local business people and residents gathered Monday at The Walnut Room in Hattiesburg to drum up support for Sen. Thad Cochran's re-election to the U.S. Senate. Ed Langton, chairman and CEO of Grand Bank, impressed on the crowd of about 40 the importance of voting in the runoff election. The 41-year-old McDaniel won the June 3 primary race by about 1,500 votes -- or about 49.5 percent to Cochran's 49 percent -- which Langton said could have been different had the voter turnout been higher. Langton said Cochran represents the best choice because of his ability to compromise with political friends and rivals alike.
McDaniel: Cochran camp resorting to fear tactics as runoff nears
U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's campaigners have "pushed the panic button" and resorted to preying on Jackson Countians' fears to win votes, Republican primary runoff challenger state Sen. Chris McDaniel said today during a campaign stop in Wade. "The only chance Cochran's got now are fear tactics and fear mongering and Democrats," McDaniel said to supporters at the Catfish Point restaurant. With only eight days left before the June 24 runoff, both McDaniel and the longtime incumbent senator have been making rounds in Jackson County.
Campaign workers take over at Ingalls for ailing McDaniel
Chris McDaniel was ill Tuesday morning and unable to court the crucial Jackson County vote at Ingalls Shipbuilding, but a team of supporters was there to pass out push campaign literature. "Hey are you Chris?" asked one shipbuilder rushing to beat the 6 a.m. whistle that starts the shift. "He's not this good looking," joked state Sen. Michael Watson, one of those standing in for the candidate who is challenging Sen. Thad Cochran in the June 24 Republican runoff. Most of the workers took the letter or the push cards that outline McDaniel's basic stands. Some refused, others said they were from Alabama (about 20 percent of the workforce is, according to Ingalls).
McDaniel's Mississippi roots run deep in Jones County
Some 150 years later, the Free State of Jones is the epicenter of Chris McDaniel's insurgent bid to upend an institution of Mississippi's political royalty, six-term incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran. A hometown boy from nearby Ellisville who has represented the area in the state Senate, McDaniel got an almost unbelievable 85 percent of the vote in Jones in the June 3 primary that set up a June 24 runoff rematch. The county -- where government spending is Public Enemy No. 1 despite receiving millions in federal aid after being smacked by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 -- also exemplifies the inherent contradictions of the tea party movement. In many ways, at least down here, these grass-roots true believers seem aimed at re-creating an America that no longer exists.
Hinds GOP chair paid by Cochran PAC
A consulting firm owned by Hinds County GOP Chairman Pete Perry, who helps oversee primary elections, has been paid $60,000 by a super PAC that supports incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran. Perry said there's nothing untoward about him participating in the campaign or his firm being hired by the Mississippi Conservatives super PAC that has spent millions helping Cochran. He said numerous McDaniel supporters are also involved in running the election, as poll workers at county voting precincts. "If anybody wants to level a suspicion or accusation of what I'm doing wrong, I would be glad to answer it," he said.
Seniority not the boon it once was
Seniority was once valued in politics, but this year, incumbents are having trouble convincing voters that politicians get better with age. It's an issue that was front and center last week in 76-year-old Sen. Thad Cochran's (R-Miss.) primary runoff battle with state Sen. Chris McDaniel, and was a driving force in 91-year-old Rep. Ralph Hall's (R-Texas) loss last month. For both Hall and Cochran, it's not just that their decades of service are seen as a detriment -- questions about the effects of their age are popping up, too.
UMMC backs out of Landmark Center purchase
University of Mississippi Medical Center will not purchase downtown Jackson's Landmark Center. The discovery of about 2,000 graves on a separate site where the medical center plans to build a mixed-use development was the primary cause, said medical center spokesman Jack Mazurak. The school first discovered a few dozen graves on the property adjacent to Lakeland Drive in 2012. By February of this year, that number had reached 2,000. The cost of properly relocating and reinterring the caskets is $6 million, equaling the agreed-to purchase price of the Landmark.
U. of Kentucky gets $12.2 million federal grant to study hazardous waste sites
The University of Kentucky won a $12.2 million federal grant Monday to research the environmental effects of hazardous waste sites. The grant was awarded by the National Institutes of Health and will be administered by the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. It is one of the largest grants the NIH has awarded UK. Kentucky has more than 200 so-called Superfund sites, which the Environmental Protection Agency defines as "uncontrolled or abandoned places where hazardous waste is located." Fourteen of those sites are on a national priority list of 157 sites that have released or threaten to release hazardous material or contaminants, according to the EPA.
Retired LSU professor's research donated to Smithsonian
As soon as the five-gallon bucket gets pried open, the smell of preserved sea creatures captured from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico pervades the LSU laboratory. "They are very lipid (fat) rich, and the lipids don't preserve very well, so that's what you're smelling. That rancid smell," said Robert Carney, a retired professor of oceanography and coastal studies at LSU. The giant isopods in the bucket are just a portion of the 28-year collection of deep sea marine life that Carney is donating to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. Three employees of the national museum are camped out in Carney's lab this week bubble wrapping individual specimen jars and placing them carefully in 55-gallon barrels for eventual shipping to the museum's collection. They could be used by scientists looking to compare organisms taken from the Gulf before the BP oil spill four years ago to those living there now.
Law clears path for cheaper prepaid tuition plans in Florida
Saving for your baby's university education is going to get a lot cheaper. Thanks to legislation signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott last week, the Florida Prepaid College Board will be able to lower the cost of its four-year Florida University plan for the first time in five years. Since 1988, Florida Prepaid has allowed parents to lock in on a projected tuition rate set by actuaries for when their children will be in college. Around 110,000 students are currently enrolled statewide in the state's public colleges and universities. The University of Florida had 11,665 students in 2012-13 receiving Florida Prepaid awards totaling $36.2 million, said UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes.
STEM: Efforts to Inspire Students Have Borne Little Fruit
Five years ago, President Obama began the Educate to Innovate initiative, a series of private-public partnerships with companies and nonprofits that was intended to get more students fascinated by science, technology, engineering and math -- the so-called STEM fields. Last month, Mr. Obama hosted his fourth science fair at the White House -- four more than any other president has held. "As a society, we have to celebrate outstanding work by young people in science at least as much as Super Bowl winners," Mr. Obama said. The celebration of the best and brightest would inspire other students, the organizers hoped, spurring them to higher achievements. But that goal has been an elusive one.
OUR OPINION: Barbour, Bayh join forces to aid U.S. manufacturing
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal editorializes: "Former governors Haley Barbour, R-Mississippi, and Evan Bayh, D-Indiana, have put their names and reputations as economic development advocates behind a report released Monday by the University of Virginia on creating American manufacturing jobs, which the report casts as 'an engine of well-paying, middle-class employment throughout US history.' The bipartisan leadership of the commission producing the report suggests what almost everyone in leadership understands: Agreement on important issues for the common good isn't a surrender of principle. The UVA report is described as 'innovative, nonpartisan, and actionable ideas on creating manufacturing jobs.'"
CHARLIE MITCHELL (OPINION): 'Electioneering' has become an industry all unto itself
Longtime Mississippi journalist Charlie Mitchell writes: "'For some, politics is a racket that's too good to pass up.' So wrote Christopher Hooks of Politico in a story summarizing the defeat of former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, who sought to unseat U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, also a Republican, earlier this year. It's an observation worth pondering, specifically because electioneering has, in fact, evolved into a freestanding industry and career field. There is some relation between this development and the seamy side of campaigning as witnessed by Mississippians this year."

Bulldogs tackle summer work
Preparations for the 2015 season are already underway at Mississippi State. Head coach John Cohen has assigned 23 of his players to six summer baseball leagues around the country. "We have several guys in the Cape (Cod League) and guys scattered all the way from California to the East Coast," Cohen said. "I think it's huge. It's not just baseball experience, it's about getting out of your comfort zone and meeting kids from all over the country and playing for a new set of coaches. When all those kids come back with those experiences, it makes our program better."
LSU expects to sell 73,000-plus season tickets
LSU expects to distribute a record 73,000-plus season tickets this year, and the school has already sold more than 30,000 tickets to the season-opening game against Wisconsin in Houston, said Brian Broussard, associate athletic director for ticket sales. LSU has a 98 percent renewal rate on season tickets for this season and has 4,000-5,000 on a wait list, people who will likely find seats because of the new addition to Tiger Stadium, Broussard said. The south end zone addition will create 5,000-plus season tickets in the suite and club levels. Those tickets are mostly sold, freeing up some regular seats for those waiting. The school's season-ticket record is 68,722, set last year.
KEVIN SCARBINSKY (OPINION): Your tweets can be used against you in a court of law by the NCAA
Columnist Kevin Scarbinsky writes for AL.com: "Not sure how many major college football players are following the Ed O'Bannon trial, but if they are, they learned a couple things Monday morning. Lesson No. 1: Big Brother may be watching you by following you on Twitter. Lesson No. 2: Anything you say on Twitter can be used against you in a court of law. Just more reasons for major college football programs to ban their players from using social media or, better yet, for the players themselves to just say no."

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