Wednesday, July 2, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Soggy June puts damper on local crops
The unrelenting rainfall that has drenched the Golden Triangle throughout June has created challenges and delays for local farmers. June rainfall was well above the average for Lowndes, Oktibbeha, Clay and Noxubee counties this year. According to Marty Pope of the National Weather Service in Jackson, the region has received some of the highest June rainfalls since recording precipitation became widespread. Dr. Brian Williams, of the Mississippi State University Department of Agricultural Economics, said that the soggy June may have got planting off to a slow start, but that it is not necessarily a bad thing. "Really, it was more of a temporary shock to the market," Williams said. Williams said that the large amount of rain ensures moisture in the ground for a long time, which is an encouraging sign for the markets that fear drought above all else.
Scientists: Tick bite can cause red meat allergy
The Mississippi State University Extension Service says scientists have discovered some tick bites might cause an allergy to red meat. Officials say the lone star tick can transmit a sugar in its bite that can cause people to become allergic to red meat. Jerome Goddard, medical entomologist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, says the symptoms of an allergic reaction might occur hours after consuming red meat. MSU alumnus Kevin Chase developed a sensitivity to red meat after being bitten by a tick while conducting research for his master's degree at MSU.
Choctaw casino projects await refinancing
Phyliss J. Anderson, chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, will join with bank representatives Wednesday to sign refinancing documents that will pave the way for renovation of Silver Star Hotel and Casino and reopening of Golden Moon Hotel and Casino. Representatives from the Pearl River Resort, Choctaw Resort Development Enterprise, Trustmark and Fifth Third Bank will be signing official papers for the refinance package of the Pearl River Resort loan. Renovation designs are underway.
Civil rights icons promote education
Two icons from the civil rights era spoke in Philadelphia last week about the sins and the progress of the state as well as future endeavors, including a proposed Chaney-Goodman-Schwerner Freedom School in Neshoba County. Former Mississippi Gov. William F. Winter and civil rights pioneer Marian Wright-Edelman spoke to a group of about 60 people during a luncheon at the Depot last Wednesday as part of the 50th commemoration of the murders of three civil rights workers here in 1964 and Freedom Summer. "The heart of our effort needs to be to educate a young generation of Americans to the heritage that they have and the responsibilities that they have," Winter said. "We have to see to it that these young people understand their responsibilities to assume the leadership in the communities where they are providing opportunities for others."
Mississippi tax revenues increase for third year
Mississippi tax collections continued growing strongly in the just-concluded budget year, posting another year of 5 percent growth and ensuring that money will be available to help improve local roads and bridges. State Department of Revenue figures show general fund tax receipts grew to a record $5.25 billion in the 2014 budget year, which ended Monday. That extra money means Mississippi will be able to grant $32 million in aid for local roads and bridges that House members fought for on the 2014 session's closing night. Upset about $40 million in special projects targeted to home areas of Senate leaders, the House initially balked at approving a transportation budget. In the end, the House and Senate agreed to spend more to help local roads and bridges if tax collections allowed.
Cochran campaign denies vote-buying reports
The U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran campaign is denying reports from a conservative blogger that it was trying to buy votes in Lauderdale County. Cochran campaign spokesman Jordan Russell called the accusations of illegal vote buying "baseless and false." "This is obviously a guy who is a liar, who sold his story to a blogger who's openly proclaiming he will pay people to tell him a story," Russell said. "... Most disturbing is (Johnson) is attempting to solicit pictures of Mrs. Rose Cochran in her nursing home, with a bounty up to $1,000."
Cochran campaign to Fielder: Get a lawyer
An allegation of vote buying by a campaign volunteer in Meridian for Sen. Thad Cochran has prompted a Cochran campaign staffer to threaten legal action against the volunteer and the blogger who published his story. Cochran campaign spokesman Jordan Russell said the allegations of Steve Fielder are absolutely false. In the story, Fielder referred to himself as an associate pastor at First Union Missionary Baptist Church in Meridian. Not so, said long time member, Melba Clark, who is also a member of the local NAACP chapter and a member of the Lauderdale County Executive Committee. "No. That's a lie. He is not a pastor at First Union. He never has been," Clark said. Clark said she had not heard anyone say anything about vote-buying until Tuesday.
Blogger Claims Cochran Campaign Bought Votes
U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's campaign officials are dismissing allegations by a Meridian man that they paid for the votes of African-Americans in the June 24 runoff with state Sen. Chris McDaniel. Newscenter 11 was not able to locate Stevie Fielder Tuesday, but we did reach some First Union church members. They did not want to be on camera but did go on record with us, saying Fielder is not associate pastor of their church. Retired educator, Robert Markham, said he personally would not do business with Fielder because Fielder had legal problems with church members, who paid him to do work. Former Lauderdale County Democratic Party leader, Melba Clark, said, "It's all a bunch of lies. And Fielder does not have a good reputation."
McDaniel not giving up GOP runoff to Cochran
Chris McDaniel has presented no evidence to support his claim that voter fraud pushed Senate incumbent Thad Cochran to victory in Mississippi's GOP runoff. And without evidence, the tea party-backed hopeful is going to have a tough time overturning Cochran's nearly 6,800-vote win. But a week after the balloting, McDaniel isn't giving up. McDaniel spokesman Noel Fritsch said Tuesday that the campaign continues to examine poll books for possible examples of crossover voting that is prohibited by state law -- people who voted in both the Democratic primary June 3 and the Republican runoff June 24. "We haven't determined our specific legal recourse," Fritsch said. "We're kind of in a holding pattern, to a certain degree, while we're collecting evidence."
Legal sparks fly in Mississippi's latest GOP election dustup
The circus the Republican runoff has become sparked one lawsuit Tuesday and the threat of another. And the results aren't even official yet. Circuit clerks across the Coast this morning will send certified results from the June 24 Republican runoff for the U.S. Senate to the Secretary of State's Office. Those results are already the subject of a suit by the Chris McDaniel-backing True the Vote. That suit against the Mississippi Republican Party and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann seeks to immediately examine records from the runoff, which was won by Sen. Thad Cochran.
McDaniel camp claims 'irregular votes' numerous
A spokesman says supporters of state Sen. Chris McDaniel already have found more than 3,300 instances of "irregular votes" from the June 24 runoff election that McDaniel lost to incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran. The Cochran campaign, meanwhile, says the figure is "wildly inflated." Joe Nosef, chairman of the state Republican Party, said Tuesday he is certain that the results will be thoroughly examined and if enough "irregular votes" are found to make a difference, the McDaniel campaign will file a challenge. An example of the ongoing contentiousness in the election was evident Tuesday at "the perfunctory meeting" of the executive committee in downtown Jackson at the Republican Party headquarters. Nosef requested that Hinds County deputies provide security to ensure there were no confrontations.
McDaniel still gathering evidence for vote challenge
Chris McDaniel is likely to challenge the results of the June 24 U.S. Senate primary runoff, state Sen. Michael Watson said Tuesday, but is still gathering evidence. "We've examined 38 counties so far, and found 3,300 irregularities, plus or minus," Watson, R-Pascagoula, said before he attended Tuesday's meeting of the state Republican Party Executive Committee as one of three representatives of McDaniel's campaign. "We haven't touched the Delta or absentee ballots yet ...We've heard stories of irregularities from across the state." Austin Barbour of the Cochran campaign attended the GOP committee meeting -- which was closed to media and public -- and refuted the claim of 3,300 irregularities in voting. "You do have a vote here or there," Barbour said, but nothing beyond typical voting mistakes and not enough to affect the outcome.
McDaniel backers sue Mississippi GOP, Hosemann
True the Vote, a election activist group that came to Mississippi to supply poll watchers supporting Senate candidate Chris McDaniel has sued the Mississippi Republican Party and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann to inspect election records before the election results that have McDaniel losing to Sen. Thad Cochran in the June 24 Republican Runoff. Hosemann's office referred questions about the suit to the Attorney General's Office, which would defend the state in any suit. A spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office said the suit is being reviewed.
McDaniel calls election 'a sham'
Chris McDaniel calls last week's runoff election "a sham, plain and simple." WLOX News has confirmed McDaniel supporters sent that message to contributors Wednesday morning via an email. "Across the state, Democrats took to the polls to vote in the Republican primary to make sure that Thad Cochran could return to Washington to keep pushing for reckless spending in the senate," McDaniel's note continued. McDaniel says a legal challenge is not out of the questions. The McDaniel email asks supporters for donations to fund any battles that take this election to. "We don't currently have the resources to mount the legal challenge that this case deserves," the email notes.
The defiant Mississippi loser
It's been a week since Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) won the Mississippi Republican primary, but not if you ask Chris McDaniel. The failed Senate challenger hasn't conceded to the six-term incumbent, and shows no signs of doing so anytime soon. Instead, the state senator is looking into legal routes to challenge the 6,693-vote margin he says was orchestrated through, at best, illegitimate voter targeting, and at worst through illegal vote-buying. Election law expert Rick Hasen said McDaniel and his allies have a tough case to prove, however. "To even have a plausible claim they're going to have to get over 6,000 illegitimate votes. There are lots of people who have similar names," said Hasen. "It all depends on what evidence they come forward with. Right now it's a lot of talk. They need to publicly show their evidence, either to a court or release it publicly."
As federal highway fund nears empty, DOT warns states to expect less
The U.S. Department of Transportation said Tuesday that it would start limiting payments to states for road and transit projects next month in an attempt to conserve the federal Highway Trust Fund's rapidly diminishing cash balance. Usually, the department reimburses states for transportation projects upon request. But beginning Aug. 1, the states will have to live paycheck to paycheck, receiving funds only once every two weeks as money is collected through federal gasoline taxes. The move may put pressure on Congress to approve at least a short-term fix before its August break begins.
New Weapon in Fight Against 'Superbugs'
A soil sample from a national park in eastern Canada has produced a compound that appears to reverse antibiotic resistance in dangerous bacteria. Scientists at McMaster University in Ontario discovered that the compound almost instantly turned off a gene in several harmful bacteria that makes them highly resistant to treatment with a class of antibiotics used to fight so-called superbug infections. The compound, called aspergillomarasmine A, or AMA, was extracted from a common fungus found in soil and mold. Antibiotic resistance is a growing public-health threat.
Principal program admits largest cohort
Eighteen teachers from across the state have joined the latest cohort of the Mississippi Principal Corps. An elite program for aspiring school administrators, all recruits were nominated by their district superintendents and will spend the next 13 months completing the rigorous program involving coursework at the University of Mississippi School of Education and two full-time internships supervised by accomplished school leaders. The sixth cohort is the largest class to date, growing from 12 recruits last year. "This program is the beginning of a new professional life for educators," said Tom Burnham, interim director of the Principal Corps and former state superintendent of education.
USM, hospitals form network to study West Nile virus
The mosquito-transmitted West Nile virus has been on the upswing nationwide over the past several years. It is estimated that the virus has killed more than 1,500 people and infected more than 50,000 Americans in the last 15 years. Now, researchers at the University of Southern Mississippi have joined forces with physicians at Methodist Rehab Center and University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson on a project that unites lab-conducted research with health care providers who work with patients on a daily basis.
New Auburn University aviation center to focus on program, industry, economy
"The sky is the limit" for aviation education at Auburn University, according to Auburn University Regional Airport Director Dr. Bill Hutto. Auburn announced Tuesday plans for a new aviation center that will serve as a hub for instruction, research and outreach for the aviation and aerospace industries in Alabama, according to a release from the university. Hutto, the new center director, said the center will help expand and create a multi-disciplinary approach to aviation and aviation education. The center aims to promote economic development, Hutto said, and work with state and industry leaders to strengthen the two aviation programs at Auburn's Harbert College of Business, aviation management and professional flight management.
Jindal administration repays Louisiana treasury for higher education loan
The Jindal administration has repaid a $70 million state treasury loan that was needed to keep public colleges and universities operating. The repayment resolves one outstanding issue in the 2013-14 state fiscal year that ended this week. However, other issues exist for state government. Some needed dollars aren't yet in the bank -- state Treasurer John Kennedy says it's as much as $63 million -- from the patchwork approach Gov. Bobby Jindal and legislators took to pay for colleges, hospitals and other public expenses. Kennedy said the Jindal administration repaid the higher education loan by grabbing dollars that originally were intended for use in the 2014-2015 state budget year. Kennedy said that troubles him. "They're using 2015 money to pay expenses for 2014. That leaves a hole in 2015, which causes me to have to loan them more money to fill the hole. If a consumer did it this way, it would be called check kiting," he said.
Texas A&M, website founder butt heads over 12th Man trademark
Four Buffalo Bills fans working to keep their beloved football team in their hometown through an online petition on fear Texas A&M University could file a lawsuit against them in the coming days. The dispute stems from the group's use of the term "12th Man," which is a Texas A&M registered trademark. Founded in a rehabilitation room as Charles "Chuckie" Sonntag recovered from a leg amputation, 12th Man Thunder aimed to keep the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo following owner Ralph Wilson's death in late March. The website was created on April 27, and the site's co-founders -- Sonntag, Charles Pellien, Paul Roorda and Anthony Lynch -- received a cease-and-desist letter from the university on May 27. Their petition has collected more than 10,000 signatures and the website has spurred more than 200 local businesses to boycott Bon Jovi, whose frontman, Jon Bon Jovi, is rumored to be interested in buying the team and moving it to Canada.
Texas A&M chemistry professors receive special appointments
Four Texas A&M University chemistry professors have been appointed to endowed chairs and professorships within the Department of Chemistry: Francois P. Gabbai, Daniel Romo, Sherry J. Yennello and Hongcai Joe Zhou.
U. of Missouri law professor who worked on Hobby Lobby case reflects on court decision
Josh Hawley, an associate professor at the University of Missouri School of Law, was part of a team that won a major victory in the nation's highest court this week. Hawley was one of about 15 lawyers working on Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Inc., a case heard and decided on by the U.S. Supreme Court that addresses whether businesses can use religious objections to avoid a requirement to cover contraception for employees. "The rules that the Supreme Court embraced in this case" apply "to people of all faith," he said, adding that it gives the business owners "the chance to exercise their moral convictions." Hawley said he is surprised by concerns that the decision creates a precedent that allows employers to pick and choose benefits for their employees.
Suing Over Campus Speech
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education filed four lawsuits Tuesday, alleging that three state universities and one community college maintain unconstitutional speech codes and have restricted the free speech of students and faculty members. The lawsuits -- filed against Chicago State University, Citrus College, Iowa State University and Ohio University -- are the start of a larger campaign that FIRE is calling the Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project. For every lawsuit FIRE wins, whether through a ruling or a settlement, the organization will sue another college. While FIRE officials have spoken out against speech limitations at private colleges, citing the principles of academic freedom, the organization is focusing its litigation on public universities, which are covered by the First Amendment.
BRIAN PERRY (OPINION): Reeves threw a tea party
Consultant and columnist Brian Perry writes: "The stereotypical Tea Party Republican has certain flair: loud, angry, rambunctious, revolutionary. I say 'stereotypical' because that does not encompass all Tea Party Republicans or those who adhere to the same principles but employ a different style and tactics. ...Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves does not fit into the stereotypical Tea Party mode. I doubt he would characterize himself as a Tea Party Republican. Tea Party leaders certainly view him more as an 'establishment' Republican. But when it comes to principles -- specifically the fiscal responsibility at the core of the Tea Party's creation -- you would be hard pressed to identify someone who has won more fiscal responsibility battles among recent Republican policy makers."
BOBBY HARRISON (OPINION): Mississippi voters legally ignored partisan lines
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "Let's be clear here -- if a person voted in the June 3 Democratic primary and then someway sneaked through and participated in the June 24 Republican runoff, then he or she voted illegally. And the McDaniel campaign has every right to examine the ballots for such occurrences. But under Mississippi law, a person has no party registration and can vote in the primary of choice. Countless people vote in the Republican primary one year because they like a particular candidate and in the Democratic primary the next. Even McDaniel has done that in the past. ...That's not cheating. It's just Mississippi politics."
SID SALTER (OPINION): Online gaming is more bad news for state casinos
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "With Mississippi's gaming revenues declining -- particularly in the Tunica/Mississippi River markets -- the potential national impact of online gaming is a particularly relevant topic of public policy debate. aspect of gaming in which there is less known about competitive impact in Mississippi is online gaming. Mississippi, as of the 2014 session of the Mississippi Legislature, is now officially studying online gaming. Mississippi House Gaming Committee Chairman Richard Bennett commissioned the task force, which will look at how online gaming is working in the small number of states that have made it legal."

Mississippi State's Roberts remains patient, achieves his goal
Matt Roberts realized he wanted to become a tennis head coach in the Southeastern Conference someday while he was serving as an assistant at Michigan State. In 2012, Roberts joined Per Nilsson's staff at Mississippi State in a move he felt lwould better prepare him to reach his future goal. Earlier this month, Nilsson left the MSU men's team to take over the women's tennis program at Pepperdine. That shift opened the door for Roberts to realize his dream becoming the Bulldogs' 19th head coach on Saturday. "I knew while I was at Michigan State that I had to make a move that would possibly set me up to be a head coach in the SEC," Roberts said. "As soon as that happened, I knew I had to be patient and wait for my time. I felt like everything worked in the right direction."
Mississippi State schedules home-and-home series with N.C. State for 2020-21
Mississippi State continued to beef up its future non-conference football schedules on Tuesday, announcing a home-and-home series with North Carolina State for 2020-21. The Bulldogs will travel to Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., on Sept. 12, 2020. The Wolfpack visit Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville on Sept. 11, 2021. N.C. State leads the all-time series with MSU 3-2. The teams last met in the 1995 Peach Bowl in Atlanta, with the Wolfpack winning 29-25. Mississippi State previously scheduled a home-and-home with Arizona for 2022-23.
Mississippi State schedule remains hazy for 2016-19
Mississippi State can now focus on 2016. At least, when it comes to scheduling. MSU and North Carolina State announced future home-and-home football series for the 2020 and 2021 seasons on Tuesday. The Bulldogs still need to schedule major conference opponents for the 2016 season through the 2019 season to fulfill the Southeastern Conference's new scheduling stipulation. All SEC teams must play a major conference opponent beginning in 2016. MSU has been in negotiations with a number of schools but is not ready to announce any more agreements. "We've had a lot of conversations, (2018 and 2019) I think we're close," Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin said.
Bianco, AD Bjork discuss new contract
Mike Bianco's run to Omaha has continued with a run to the negotiating table. While this week's Independence Day holiday and vacations have people off their regular schedules, Bianco, the Ole Miss baseball coach, and athletics director Ross Bjork have met several times to discuss a raise and extension. "We have had a chance to speak a couple of times. Now we're just going through the process. We're hoping to get everything finalized in the next couple of weeks. That's our goal for a new contract," said Bjork, adding that talks are still "fluid."
SEC's new basketball coaches working overtime
The to-do list is long when a coach takes over a program, as the Southeastern Conference's three new leaders -- Kim Anderson at Missouri, Bruce Pearl at Auburn and Donnie Tyndall at Tennessee -- have been reminded this spring. The first few months on the job are often filled with players coming and going, and it's up to the new coach to start to provide stability by assembling a staff. Tyndall faces a tougher challenge, at least initially, than Anderson or Pearl. For starters, Volunteers fans are less likely to be patient because they just got finished waiting three years under Cuonzo Martin before the team returned to the NCAA Tournament and went to the Sweet 16.
Clay Travis: couch crasher to sports media celebrity
In the past eight years, Clay Travis, a Nashville native and 1997 graduate of Martin Luther King Magnet High School, has propelled himself from a couch-crashing blogger and aspiring author to a one-man sports media brand. Travis is one-third of the on-air team for "3HL," the ratings-dominating afternoon rush-hour show on 104.5 The Zone. His website,, has a lucrative licensing deal with FoxSports. And Travis has added national TV to his list of accomplishments as part of the Fox Sports 1's college football show. Travis is now a full-fledged celebrity, the guy sports fans in Nashville and throughout the Southeast want to know "what he's really like." But eight years ago that sort of success appeared to be far away.

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