Tuesday, June 24, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
West Point man arrested for alleged armed robbery in Starkville
Starkville officers arrested a 28-year-old West Point resident Thursday after he allegedly broke into an Old West Point Road home and robbed its owner by gunpoint last week. Depriest Gray, of 530 Windale St., Apt. H-44, was charged with armed robbery, burglary and kidnapping after he allegedly subdued the home owner and tied him up shortly after lunch Wednesday. It is believed the home owner was injured while interrupting the robbery.
Mississippi casino revenues dip sharply in May
Casinos across Mississippi saw big drops in revenue in May, dipping by 10.6 percent compared to the year before. Mississippi Department of Revenue figures show casinos statewide won $172 million from gamblers in May, down from $192 million May 2013. It's the 21st month out of the last 23 that Mississippi casinos have won less money from gamblers compared to the same month of the previous year. The numbers exclude Choctaw Indian casinos, which aren't required to report winnings to the state.
Real hurdle to Mars mission is politics, not technology
Tackling in-space propulsion, oxygen recycling and radiation protection is daunting enough. But the most formidable challenge in sending astronauts to Mars just might be the politics playing out on Earth. There's near-unanimous support on Capitol Hill for making the Red Planet the next grand destination for America's space program. Paying for it, enlisting international partners, and deciding exactly how to get there? Not so much. Rep. Steven Palazzo, the Mississippi Republican who chairs the House Space Subcommittee, has called the asteroid mission a "costly and complex distraction." During an April hearing on a NASA authorization bill, Palazzo said NASA should be very careful where it spends its money.
More voters cast absentee ballots for runoff
More voters have filed absentee ballots for Tuesday's runoff election than in the June 3 primary, but some circuit clerks say the higher number may be due to more people taking vacations than signaling a higher turnout at the polls in the runoff. Mississippi Republican primaries typically turn on about a dozen counties in half a dozen regions -- the Metro, the Coast, the Pine Belt, East-Central, DeSoto and Northeast -- with large Republican voter rolls. "Mississippians across the State realize the importance of every single vote in this Party Primary Runoff Election," said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. "We hope to see high voter turnout on Election Day."
It's decision time: Voters determine Republican Senate nominee today
Three weeks after they battled to a near draw, U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and his challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, will be on the ballot again today in a runoff to decide one of the most contentious and closely watched elections in Mississippi history. Whoever wins today's runoff for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination will face not only the Democratic nominee, Travis Childers, in the Nov. 4 general election, but a major challenge in reuniting a state Republican electorate divided by a bitter campaign.
The 2 counties to watch in the Mississippi runoff race
Let's get one thing out of the way at the outset: No one really knows what's going to happen in Tuesday's run-off election between Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Chris McDaniel, his conservative challenger. But that doesn't mean we don't know where to look. What will likely happen on June 24 is an entirely different question than June 3, one for which we don't have a very good answer. Maybe on Tuesday turnout will plunge. Maybe it will be massive. We'll see. If it's anything like the primary, though, Hinds and Jones are the counties to watch.
Racial politics churn GOP Senate runoff
Race is roiling the Republican Senate runoff in Mississippi, a state with a long history of racially divided politics where the GOP is mostly white and the Democratic Party is mostly black. National tea party groups say they are working to "ensure a free and fair election" by sending several dozen observers to precincts to watch who votes during Tuesday's GOP contest, concerned about six-term Sen. Thad Cochran's efforts to persuade Mississippi Democrats to cast ballots. Challenger Chris McDaniel and the tea party portray cross-party voting as dangerous and even illegal, though state law allows it.
Mississippi Senate runoff: Can black voters save Thad Cochran?
Gary Fredericks calls himself a proud black Mississippi Democrat, but on Tuesday, he will vote Republican. His choice: Thad Cochran, the six-term senator who is fighting for his political life in a primary runoff against tea party state Sen. Chris McDaniel. "I look at what's best for Mississippi," said Mr. Fredericks, holding a Thad Cochran sign at a rally Sunday for the senator at the Gulfport-Biloxi airport. "Senator Cochran delivers for our state, and the tea party wants that to end." If Cochran forces get their way, there will be many like Fredericks voting Tuesday.
NAACP says it will watch tea party poll watchers
NAACP officials said they will send monitors to the polls in Mississippi today to make sure black voters aren't intimidated when they try to cast ballots in the state's high-profile Senate race. Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi NAACP, said he's received reports that tea party activists and other groups may send representatives to predominantly black precincts to challenge voters casting ballots in the GOP runoff election between Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel. Johnson said voter intimidation of any form should not be tolerated.
Mississippi Race Points to Appeal of Partisanship
Regardless of who wins Tuesday's unpredictable Republican Senate runoff in Mississippi, the fracas has sent a message to incumbents in Congress: It is no longer enough to be a diligent member, quietly representing your constituents' interests. You have to join the partisan fray. For decades, powerful figures like Senators Trent Lott, John C. Stennis and Thad Cochran, the six-term incumbent, and Representatives Sonny Montgomery and Jamie L. Whitten made serving the parochial needs of Mississippi their No. 1 priority, often dismissing the baser aspects of politics with an aw-shucks shrug. But comity may no longer get the job done in the Tea Party era. "That was the contract: We'll send you to Washington, and we'll keep sending you as long as you watch out for Mississippi. Whatever else you do up there really doesn't matter," said Marty Wiseman, retired director of the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University. "That's what makes the current race so darned strange."
The race is on: primary runoff between Cochran, McDaniel
In what is shaping up to be one of the fiercest primary runoff elections in recent memory, the contest between U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Jones County will be decided today. Dr. Marty Wiseman, former longtime executive director of the John C. Stennis Institute for Government at Mississippi State University, said in all of his years of analyzing politics in Mississippi, he has never seen such a sharply divided electorate. According to Wiseman, the antics and fierce partisan tactics within the same political party amount to a civil war of sorts in Mississippi. "There has never been a race like this," Wiseman said Monday. "To have people so diametrically opposite of each other and be members of the same party is almost unheard of in our history."
Down to the wire: Cochran, McDaniel make stops in Meridian
Following a contentious campaign that has attracted attention from national media outlets, the two Republican candidates for U.S. Senate made last minute stops in Meridian on Monday. At his campaign stop in Meridian on Monday, Chris McDaniel kept to his message of reducing the size of government. Meanwhile, Sen. Thad Cochran made a campaign stop just a few blocks away at his Meridian headquarters. "Well I hope every campaign office is as dependable and hardworking as this one," said Cochran. "I am impressed with the support here in Meridian. I think everyone is working hard here to make sure we have a good turnout of voters." Cochran said his main message is for the public to go out and vote.
Campaigns Stop in Meridian on the Eve of the Republican Primary
On the eve of the Republican Primary runoff, both Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel made stops in Meridian. Cochran has said in the past that he would support McDaniel, should McDaniel win the nomination on Tuesday. McDaniel was asked if he would support Cochran, if the incumbent wins. "I'll have to think about it, depending on what happens that evening. I'll let you know that evening," says McDaniel.
McCain: Cochran's 'experienced hand at tiller' needed
U.S. Sen. John McCain helped incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran make a final appeal to voters before Tuesday's runoff, focusing on Cochran's longstanding support of the military. "We cannot afford not to have this experienced hand at the tiller," McCain said of Cochran to a crowd of about 250 in Jackson on Monday. "Especially in the most dangerous times I have ever seen in my life, when feckless foreign policy is allowing this nation to be threatened as never before by the forces of radical extremists who are hell-bent on destroying this nation." Cochran and McCain, both U.S. Navy veterans, were joined onstage Monday by more than a dozen veterans and a host of Republican state elected officials.
'The conservative movement has awakened,' McDaniel says
Saying the nation's conservative revival begins today in Mississippi, Chris McDaniel rode his campaign bus around Mississippi on Monday to cheers from die-hard supporters. McDaniel, a state senator running against veteran Sen. Thad Cochran in a Republican runoff election, held rallies Monday in Meridian and Flowood. He urged each of his supporters to bring at least 10 people to the polls today to help decide what has become one of the most competitive races in the country.
Thad Cochran back on coast for Ocean Springs visit Monday
Make no mistake, Thad Cochran considers Jackson County vital in his bid for a seventh term in the U.S. Senate. Less than 24 hours after making an appearance at the Gulfport-Biloxi airport and less than 24 hours before the polls open for the Republican runoff, Cochran returned to the coast for a stop at his campaign office in Ocean Springs, where he greeted a number of his youthful volunteers, as well as other supporters who stopped by to see him. Cochran narrowly lost Jackson County to challenger Chris McDaniel in the June 3 primary and is hopeful of reversing that come Tuesday. "I'm optimistic. I think we're going to have a big turnout," Cochran told The Mississippi Press in a one-on-one interview.
Mississippi Runoff Takes Financial Toll on GOP
Mississippi's bruising GOP Senate primary, which voters will decide Tuesday in a runoff, has come at great cost -- more than $17 million -- to Republicans. More than 30 Republican-friendly outside groups, from Club for Growth Action to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have lavished in excess of $11.3 million on the race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That's almost twice the $6.1 million spent by Sen. Thad Cochran and his tea party challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel. As of early May, conservative groups had spent three times more attacking one another in primaries around the country than they had against Democratic candidates, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity.
Republican Senate primary drawing conservative groups from across the U.S.
Republican Senate candidates Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel returned to core campaign themes ahead of a Tuesday runoff election as GOP leaders nervously looked on, unsure of who would win and worried that the spectacle of Mississippi politics has become a national headache for the party. As he greeted diners Monday at Jean's Restaurant, McDaniel dismissed the anxiety of his party's elders and confidently predicted that he would topple Cochran, a titan of Mississippi politics who was first elected to the Senate in 1978. Cochran, meanwhile, stumped at a war memorial in Jackson on Monday with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a prominent voice on foreign policy and a fellow Navy veteran. The event underscored the 76-year-old Cochran's hawkish worldview and his years of procuring federal funding for the state's military bases.
Mississippi's revolution may be just starting
Don't breathe that sigh of relief just yet, Mississippi. As the tumultuous fight for Sen. Thad Cochran's seat in Washington hurtles toward a close on Tuesday, this bitter reality has started to dawn on Republicans here: The larger battle for power within the Mississippi Republican coalition is only just beginning. In this deeply Republican, nearly one-party state, the race between Cochran and conservative challenger Chris McDaniel has torn open long-developing divisions within the GOP power structure. Win or lose this week, conservatives here predict that Mississippi's state elections in 2015 will bring another reckoning for the party. The reality that McDaniel has come so close to unseating Cochran may herald a larger-scale shift in culture for a state where seniority has long been king.
In Mississippi, Jenny Beth Martin and Tea Party Patriots try to prove their worth
Never mind that it's 92 degrees and nearing the end of the day: Jenny Beth Martin has started jogging between houses. "I've gotta get my steps," she calls back to the rented Suburban with the Florida license plates that has been shuttling her around with the air- conditioning set to full blast. In from Georgia, Martin has been spending much of the past three weeks in the state, holding conferences, making fundraising calls, meeting with local chapters of the tea party, and yes, walking door-to-door to turn out the vote for conservative Senate hopeful Chris McDaniel. But unlike most volunteers here, as the head of the national Tea Party Patriots, a group she co-founded and helped bring to national prominence, she's on track to make $450,000 this year doing all this, according to the latest Federal Election Commission reports and Internal Revenue Service filings.
Thad Cochran Primary: Travis Childers Awaits Mississippi Runoff
As his two potential Republican opponents duked it out over the past three weeks, former Rep. Travis Childers has been traveling Mississippi and working the phones in preparation for an uphill Senate race. If state Sen. Chris McDaniel is able to topple longtime Sen. Thad Cochran in the GOP runoff Tuesday, Childers would suddenly be the Democratic nominee in a race that could invite outside spending from both sides and give his party a third possible pickup opportunity as it defends the majority in a lopsided landscape. But his Tuesday night plans do not involve any sort of watch party as Republican votes roll in. "I don't want to be sitting around waiting on their results," Childers told CQ Roll Call in a phone interview. "I will probably be on the road."
Will Mississippi mudslinging give Dems a chance in South?
If Chris McDaniel on Tuesday knocks off Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), national Democrats will have a rare offensive opportunity in the Deep South. The nasty, divisive primary fight comes to a close in tonight's runoff election, but it's unclear whether Mississippi Republicans can heal the wounds the primary has caused. Democrats are gleeful that those divisions could open the door for their nominee, centrist former Rep. Travis Childers, to woo disaffected Cochran supporters. That new math could complicate the GOP calculus for the six seats the party needs to flip Senate control. But a McDaniel victory would also embolden national Tea Party groups who have spent heavily on his behalf.
MUW Student Dies of Natural Causes in Dorm
The assistant band director at Columbus High, who also was a summer student at Mississippi University for Women, was found dead on the floor in his dorm room in Columbus Hall Monday evening. Lowndes County Coroner Greg Merchant identified the man as 32-year-old LeShawn Dewayne Orr of Prairie He was found when a friend went to check on him at about 5 p.m. He apparently had died Monday morning Merchant is checking with Orr's doctors on his medical conditions but says all factors point to natural causes. The university has counselors available for students needing assistance.
Hattiesburg, Southern Miss ranked among top 50 great college towns
The University of Southern Mississippi and the City of Hattiesburg earned a No. 24 ranking in a recent list of the "50 Great Affordable College Towns in the U.S." as chosen by GreatValueColleges.Net. To compile this list, GreatValueColleges.net selected the 50 college towns with the best cost-of-living index scores as published by the Council for Community and Economic Research. The cost-of-living index considers such factors as grocery items, housing, utilities, transportation and health care.
Auburn University ranked in bottom 5 percent of nation for admitting low-income students
A new report from The Education Trust ranks Auburn University among the bottom 5 percent of colleges and universities nationally when it comes providing access to lower-income students. The report, dubbed "Tough Love" by the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, is part of an ongoing campaign to close achievement and opportunity gaps nationwide. It does so by calling out institutions doing the worst jobs (1) providing access to low-income students, (2) ensuring students actually graduate, and (3) ensuring those who do graduate leave with a degree that pays off in the long run.
Louisiana Board of Regents says Common Core training stays
The Louisiana Board of Regents told college and university leaders Monday that teacher training should continue to include Common Core standards despite Gov. Bobby Jindal's move last week to shelve the academic guidelines. In a memo to teacher preparation deans and others, a top official of the Regents noted that Common Core has been adopted by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education as Louisiana's content standards. "Thus, universities will continue to integrate the Louisiana content standards into their curriculum," according to an email from Jeanne Burns, associate commissioner of Teacher and Leadership Initiatives.
New grass to grow in UGA's Herty Field
Herty Field looked like a giant sandbox on Monday. But by the beginning of fall semester in August, the historic field on the University of Georgia's north campus should once again look green, UGA officials hope. Contract workers ripped out the sod and dirt out of Herty last week as a renovation project got underway for the popular gathering and lounging spot behind Moore Hall. By the end of this week, probably on Wednesday, workers will lay down new sod. By Aug. 1, it should be ready for walking, said UGA Landscape Manager Mike Orr. Herty was restored to a green space in 1999, but the grass was no longer healthy after years of heavy use, Orr said. "We didn't really anticipate the popularity of the site," he said.
U. of Florida's Forrest Masters named to commission on hurricane loss projection
Forrest Masters has conducted field research on more than two dozen hurricanes, published papers about their impact on building materials, created hurricane hazard models and runs the hurricane simulator at the University of Florida. o it makes sense that Masters, 37, an associate professor of civil and coastal engineering at UF, has been tapped to fill a vacancy on the Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology. "My background is wind engineering, with a focus on reducing the loss of property and life during extreme wind events," Masters said. "Most of my research addresses surface level winds in hurricanes and performance of low-rise buildings." Gov. Rick Scott made the announcement Friday.
Former U. of Missouri student fights to return to school while jailed for rape charges
A former University of Missouri student accused of raping another student is fighting to return to school while he's in jail accused of a similar crime in a different part of the country. Ahmed O. Salau, 30, is in a West Virginia jail for allegedly raping his wife in their Athens, W.Va., home in November. He faces a first-degree sexual assault charge and is in jail on a $50,000 bond, according to the West Virginia jail's inmate search. Salau's detainment kept him from his late-May court date in Missouri when he was scheduled to appear at a hearing for an appeal in a civil action against MU. Salau filed a preliminary injunction in late 2012 against MU administrators, including former Chancellor Brady Deaton, after he was found guilty of a rape accusation and expelled from campus through the student conduct process.
Underrepresented medical students face lonely, sometimes challenging road
When Dawit Demissie walked across the stage in May to receive his degree from the University of Missouri School of Medicine, he was the only African-American in his class of 97. Next year, three African-American women and one man are expected to graduate. The numbers illustrate a common dilemma among MU and other medical schools trying -- with mixed success -- to recruit underrepresented minorities into their programs. That group includes blacks, Native Americans, Hispanics and Latinos but not students from Asia, India and the Middle East. The prevailing challenge for the nation's 141 medical schools is competition for the same small group of minority candidates who are both interested and adequately prepared.
Public HBCUs Fighting for Survival
Elizabeth City State University faced a brief existential crisis last month when North Carolina lawmakers toyed with the idea of closing the historically black institution. The lawmakers backed off, but the episode was just one in a series of challenges facing the country's 40 public historically black four-year colleges and universities. Enrollment declines, cuts to government financial aid, leadership controversies and heightened oversight are working together to threaten some HBCUs in new ways and perhaps even jeopardize their existence, according to people who study, work with and have led HBCUs. Some private black colleges, like other tuition-dependent private institutions, are also struggling, but public HBCUs are being tugged at by a variety of forces, old and new.
AUBREY PATTERSON (OPINION): Federal funds help Mississippi
Aubrey Patterson writes in The Clarion-Ledger: "As a businessman, lifelong Mississippian and member of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning for many years, I was dismayed when I read state Sen. Chris McDaniel's assertion that, because the word "education" is not in the Constitution, it is unconstitutional to spend federal funds on education, federal funds should be eliminated and Mississippi could manage without them. By this twisted logic, the Federal Aviation Administration and national parks are unconstitutional also. ...As a member of the College Board, I am particularly aware that if McDaniel's position were to become the prevailing way of doing business, then the critical university research that will save and improve lives ends."
SAM R. HALL (OPINION) Hood, Hosemann express concern over poll watchers
The Clarion-Ledger's Sam R. Hall blogs: "Voter intimidation is a growing concern with the runoff, and now Attorney General Jim Hood and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann are making sure outside groups understand Mississippi's laws. The concern started when Ken Cuccinelli, the president of the Senate Conservatives Fund that supports GOP primary challenger Chris McDaniel, announced that the group would be sending poll watchers to Mississippi because of incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran's efforts to recruit Democrats -- predominantly black voters -- in an effort to expand the electorate. ...Now Hood and Hosemann are trying to make clear to outside groups that Cuccinelli's take on Mississippi's law is not at all on target."

Injured Bulldogs mending wounds
John Cohen saw his share of injuries this past season, including three pitchers that were lost for the year. JUCO transfer Paul Young missed the entire season while relievers John Marc Shelly and Will Cox both underwent Tommy John surgery before conference play began. "I think Young is progressing nicely," Cohen said. "I've been told by our medical people that he is ahead of schedule. Will Cox's surgery was a little bit different than the other ones because he had a little more repair to do with his ligament. I think Shelly is way ahead of schedule, he's already throwing a baseball. We're excited about all those guys coming back."
Mississippi State's McBride continues to set standard with pair of national championships
When Brandon McBride was 16-years-old, he realized he was really fast. "I went to my first international competition in Lilly, France and I got spanked pretty good," McBride said. "After a couple of months of training, I got back out there and whooped everybody in my next competition. That was when I realized the ability God had given me and the chance that I had." This was also about the same time that McBride, now a Mississippi State University sophomore, realized his track and field recruiting process was in good hands with mother Marquita calling the shots. "My mom is pretty ruthless when it comes to her kids," McBride said. McBride recently captured the 800m NCAA outdoors national championship at Eugene, Oregon.
Mississippi State's McBride named semifinalist for Bowerman
What has already been a spectacular few months for Brandon McBride got even more special Monday when the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association named him one of 10 semifinalists for the prestigious Bowerman Trophy. "This is awesome," MSU coach Steve Dudley said. "What he's accomplished for us has been outstanding and to be a semifinalist is a great achievement." The All-American from Windsor, Ontario, is the only sophomore on the list, which also includes three other SEC standouts. He's also the first MSU athlete to be named a semifinalist.
Mississippi State women's basketball adds Lovato to staff
Vic Schaefer likes to talk about working with the best coaching staff in America to build the Mississippi State women's basketball program into a contender for championships. Schaefer and MSU took another step toward realizing their goals by adding another champion to the mix. On Monday, Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College women's basketball coach Elena Lovato accepted a job as an assistant coach at MSU. Lovato replaces Brittany Hudson, who left recently to take a similar position at Ole Miss, and joins associate head coach Johnnie Harris, assistant coach Aqua Franklin, and director of basketball operations Maryann Baker.
Mississippi State's Will Clark named to College World Series Hall of Fame
Former Mississippi State first baseman Will Clark was named Monday to the College World Series Hall of Fame. Clark, a two-time All-American and the 1985 Golden Spikes winner, will be inducted July 3 in Omaha, Neb., along with fellow Class of 2014 members Dustin Ackley (North Carolina), Steve Arlin (Ohio State) and Mark Kotsay (Cal State-Fullerton). The event will be broadcast live by ESPN at 7:30 p.m. Clark batted .467 (8-for-15) in the 1985 CWS for Mississippi State, totaling six runs, two home runs and five RBIs. The Bulldogs tied for third in Omaha last year, their best showing until a runner-up finish in 2013.
Barnhart: UK's new multi-media rights deal unrelated to discussions about basketball arena
With a proposed redesign of Rupp Arena on indefinite hold, the University of Kentucky's announcement of a lucrative multimedia rights deal that includes money for a baseball stadium raised fresh questions Monday about the possibility of an on-campus basketball arena. Don't confuse the two discussions, UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said after a news conference in which UK announced a 15-year, $210 million deal with JMI Sports. UK still prefers to play at the downtown venue. "I don't want to tie these two things together," Barnhart said.
Vandy rape case filing: Florida woman bought drinks for players
A Florida woman provided an open bar tab for Vanderbilt University football players, according to a new court filing, painting a picture of free booze and----- at least in one case -- cash for student-athletes. The filing, submitted to the court Monday afternoon by attorneys for Brandon Vandenburg, places a Florida woman at the center of an ongoing party, one where an open bar tab meant free drinks for players and a student whose unconscious, videotaped rape on June 23, 2013, led to the arrest of Vandenburg and three others. The new filing also provides new details about potential DNA evidence in the case and the victim's actions after police began investigating.
Tigers, Aggies to play at 6:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving
LSU's game at Texas A&M on Thanksgiving will kick off in prime time to a national audience. The Tigers and Aggies will meet on ESPN at 6:30 Thanksgiving night from Kyle Field in College Station, Texas, the network announced Monday. LSU is 2-0 against the Aggies since they joined the Southeastern Conference in 2012.
UGA hires former Alabama offensive analyst to director of player personnel position
Georgia has hired former college coach and offensive analyst Ronnie Letson as Director of Player Personnel. Letson has been the wide receivers coach at Samford since February, and prior to that he was an offensive analyst at Alabama. Letson is graduate of Norcross High School and played wide receiver at Ole Miss, where he went on to serve as a graduate assistant from 2003-04.

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