Friday, February 28, 2020   
Mississippi State University is monitoring COVID-19
Health officials worldwide are closely monitoring the outbreak of illness caused by the newly identified coronavirus (COVID-19). The epicenter of this outbreak is Wuhan, China. Lesser numbers have been reported in several other countries, and, as of February 26, 2020, there were 60 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., including those repatriated to the U.S. from cruise ships abroad. To date, there have been no cases of COVID-19 reported at Mississippi State University or in Mississippi. However, health officials worldwide recognize that this is a rapidly evolving situation and that recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. State Department, and the Mississippi Department of Health are subject to frequent change. At present, MSU is not approving travel to countries that have been issued Level 3 status by the CDC, including China and South Korea. MSU is discouraging travel to Level 2 status countries, which now include Japan, Italy and Iran. MSU's Longest Student Health Center is working closely with campus partners, the CDC, and experts at the MSDH to strategically monitor this evolving public health issue.
Mississippi universities update students, faculty on coronavirus
Mississippi universities are taking extra precautions with the growing concern of the coronavirus. 16 WAPT News reached out to several Mississippi universities to see what they are doing to prepare. Several universities are either changing study abroad locations or not allowing study abroad programs for the summer. Mississippi State and the University of Mississippi both sent letters to students and posted the letters online. Delta State's executive director of the Student Success Center, Christy Riddle, released a statement Thursday afternoon. Riddle said, "Delta State's International Education Office is actively monitoring all COVID-19 alerts from the CDC and the U.S. Department of State. Although DSU does not have any students studying abroad this semester, DSU is working with faculty and students to ensure the health and safety for future study abroad courses and programs." Jackson State University is changing study abroad program locations. One summer program planned for China is going to be offered in an alternate location. The Mississippi University for Women will not allow students to study abroad this year.
MSU Police host vehicle service check for students
Car repairs can be expensive and for college students it can hit them hard in the wallet. The Mississippi State University Police Department partnered with Tire Engineers to give back to students. Corporal Emmitt Johnson Jr. hosted the free Vehicle Service Check for students Wednesday and Thursday. The event allows students to get their car checked for fluid levels, tire pressure, headlights and etc. Two technicians from Tire Engineers were on hand at the event to check students' cars for free. "We got a lot of students that travel hours to get here and we want to make sure they make it back to their families," said Cpl. Johnson. Tire Engineers Manager Dwayne Kimble said educating students about the lights, oil levels and transmission can keep them safe on the road.
Mississippi State Establishes Partnership Program with East Central Community College
Mississippi State University and East Central Community College in Decatur established a new partnership program on Wednesday, Feb. 26, for students enrolled in technical education programs. The agreement allows ECCC students to complete MSU's new bachelor of applied science program. MSU launched its BAS program in August 2019. The program is aimed at adults who have completed a technical associate's degree program through a community college or the military and need additional education to advance their careers, a release from MSU says. The agreement outlines courses that students must complete at each institution to fulfill degree requirements. MSU advisors will assist ECCC students through BAS program pathways, and ECCC and MSU-Meridian will provide classroom space for synchronous online courses. Students in the bachelor of applied science program will be able to consult with advisors from MSU-Meridian and MSU Online. Students can earn credits in the degree program through online or in-person courses.
Citizen to ask supervisors to make Oktibbeha County a gun rights sanctuary
A statewide movement to shield Mississippi from the possibility of future legal restrictions on firearm ownership and access will come to Oktibbeha County at Monday's board of supervisors meeting. Sixteen county boards since January have voted to become "Second Amendment sanctuaries," meaning they would not enforce any state or federal legislation they believe to be in violation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. So far none of the counties presented with the resolution have voted against it, said state Rep. Dana Criswell (R-Olive Branch), a vocal advocate for the movement. District 4 resident Scott Ivy -- a constituent of Supervisor Bricklee Miller -- will present the resolution to Oktibbeha County supervisors Monday. He said he decided to approach the board after seeing a call to action on social media for residents of every county to do so. But leaving constitutional judgments up to individual counties could become confusing and risk venturing outside the purview of existing statutes, said state Rep. Rob Roberson (R-Starkville), who also serves as the Oktibbeha board of supervisors' attorney. "Whenever (someone is) asking for the county to outlaw something that has not already been federally or state-outlawed, I have a tendency to say we need to stay within our boundaries, and it really has nothing to do with the issue," Roberson said.
Mississippi health officials prepare for coronavirus
While Mississippi is not under an immediate threat for the new coronavirus, the state is preparing for the possibility. Dr. Paul Byers, state epidemiologist with the Mississippi Department of Health, said Thursday in a news conference at the University of Mississippi Medical Center that the state has been aggressively monitoring the 2019 Novel Coronavirus -- COVID-19 -- for a number of weeks. "This is such a rapidly evolving situation and it is important that we cast a wide enough net to identify cases that may be in Mississippi, get them tested, treated appropriately and get them isolated," Byers said. Dr. Bhagyashri Navalkele, medical director of Infection Prevention at UMMC, said Thursday at the news conference that the department has been actively working the state Health Department. "We've implemented screening tools for catching any patient who might be coming into an emergency room or clinic, asking them questions like if they have traveled outside the country in the last 30 days and if they have traveled to China," Navalkele said.
Stock markets tumble again because of coronavirus, and this crisis could be different
The coronavirus panic that sent stock markets tumbling this week has triggered calls for the federal government to intervene, relying on traditional playbooks that the Federal Reserve, Congress and the White House have used in numerous previous crises. This time, though, the usual approach might not work. Typically, the Fed responds to economic trouble by lowering interest rates to make credit easier to obtain. It also can offer loans to banks via the "discount window" or buy large quantities of U.S. Treasury securities to offset any general tightening in financial conditions. Congress, meanwhile, can approve new spending or tax cuts to flood the economy with money. But the best remedy for the coronavirus -- which has sickened more than 83,000 people worldwide and killed nearly 3,000 -- could lie beyond Washington's immediate powers. Economists are struggling to assess the extent of the calamity amid conflicting information about the virulence of the illness, the likely public reaction if it spreads in the United States, and the potential response from the Fed or the Trump administration.
US consumer spending slowed in January while incomes jumped
Americans pulled back on their spending in January, even as their incomes surged, a sign the economy was growing modestly before the threat of coronavirus arose. The Commerce Department said Friday that consumer spending increased 0.2% last month, down from 0.4% in December and the smallest gain since October. Incomes, however, rose 0.6%, the biggest rise in nearly a year, spurred by bigger paychecks and an increase in Social Security benefits stemming from a cost of living adjustment. The additional income could help offset the likely drag from this week's stock market plunge and the broader threat from the coronavirus, which has caused many economists to slice their estimates for growth in the first three months of the year. Most analysts now forecast that the U.S. economy will expand at a roughly 1.5% annual pace in the first quarter, down from 2.1% in the fourth quarter.
March 10 primary will give Mississippians a chance to weigh in on the White House race, four U.S. House seats, one U.S. Senate post
Mississippians will have the opportunity to go to the polls March 10 to cast ballots for federal offices -- president, one U.S. Senate post and all four U.S. House seats. Voters must decide when they vote whether they want to participate in the Democratic or Republican primary. They cannot vote in both. In the November general election, they are not bound by party. They can vote in November for the presidential candidate of one party and the Senate candidate of the other, for instance. But on March 10, when selecting the nominees, they must vote in only one party primary election. While there will be no runoff in the presidential elections, there will be in the U.S. Senate and congressional primaries if no candidate garners a majority vote. The runoff, if needed, will be March 31. Mississippi will be one of seven states holding primaries on March 10. One week prior is Super Tuesday when 14 states, plus Americans living abroad and America Samoa will be holding primaries.
Mike Espy outraised GOP incumbent Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith in latest campaign finance reporting period
Democrat Mike Espy raised more money than Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith in the final reporting period before the March 10 primary, according to finance reports released Thursday by the campaigns. Espy, a former Democratic congressman and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture under President Bill Clinton, raised $215,000 between Jan. 1 and Feb. 19. Hyde-Smith, the GOP incumbent who defeated Espy in a contentious 2018 special election runoff, raised $171,000 in the same time period. "We are excited and proud of the amazing grassroots support for Mike's campaign," said Joe O'Hern, Espy's campaign manager. "With over 6,000 individuals already having donated to the campaign, it is clear early on where the excitement and energy is. Sen. Hyde-Smith has low approval ratings and Mike is already polling within single digits of her. It's clear voters are already looking for a change in Mississippi." Espy faces two Democratic primary challengers on March 10, while Hyde-Smith is uncontested in the Republican primary. Despite being outraised by Espy in the most recent filing report, Hyde-Smith still holds a more than $500,000 cash on hand advantage to Espy.
Trump campaign ads target a new audience: Indian Americans
Donald Trump's campaign has launched a five-figure digital ad buy targeting an unlikely voting demographic for Republicans: Indian Americans. It's likely the first time a Republican presidential candidate has spent a large amount of money on ads tailored for Indian American voters, according to five people involved in recent Republican presidential campaigns. The move comes just days after the president flew to India for a political-style rally with over 100,000 cheering fans, earning him wall-to-wall Indian media coverage. But back home, Trump hasn't polled well with Indian Americans. Still, the group represents a growing voting bloc that registers and votes at high rates, making it a desirable target. And Trump's team thinks its message on tax cuts and illegal immigration, as well as Trump's friendship with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will play well with some Indian Americans. "People have changed their minds about voting for Democrats," said Sampat Shivangi, an Indian American physician from Mississippi who will serve as delegate for Trump at the Republican National Convention this summer. He predicted Trump could reach at least 60 percent support from Indian Americans.
Bernie Sanders's rise unnerves K Street
The rise of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Democratic primary is unnerving K Street lobbyists and their clients. The self-described democratic socialist, who has touted an ambitious agenda to rein in special interests and corporations, has been gaining in the polls and is the Democratic front-runner after wins in two primary states. While there is a long road ahead in the 2020 election, the senator's new status is provoking sharp reactions on K Street, where lobbyists say clients are already asking about the fallout of a Sanders nomination -- and maybe even presidency. If Sanders wins, "you enter unchartered waters," said Kevin O'Neill, a partner at Arnold & Porter. "In our lifetime you we have not had a president so openly hostile towards corporations ... or so skeptical of capitalism as the centerpiece of the American dream," he told The Hill. A GOP lobbyist, though, saw a silver lining for K Street. "You also have to remember that a Sanders presidency could simultaneously be terrible for corporate America and great for K Street. Nothing drives our business like being on defensive 24/7."
Pending proposals would restructure IHL Board of Trustees
The state's Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees are under the microscope. Their recent process of naming the Ole Miss Chancellor sparked protests. Now, lawmakers are pushing back on their power. There are multiple proposals that would lead to a power shift within the state college board. Republican Rep. Trey Lamar filed a bill that would give appointments to the Governor, Lt. Governor and Speaker. "What that would prevent is a situation that we've had the last several years we are all 12 members were appointed by one individual," said Lamar. Another bill targets a controversial issue of naming new school leaders. HB 1571 would take away the sole authority from the board of trustees. Instead, it suggests a seven member search committee made up of appointed alumni from that school and one member selected by the board. Rep. Chris Bell's proposal is more drastic. It proposes abolishing the IHL Board. Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann says he hasn't read the details of any of the bills that would put some appointment power in his hands. But said this about the college board. "I think we need to give them some leeway on making decisions like that," noted Hosemann. "There have been complaints on the last two about not having input or whatever. So, we can always do better."
New doctoral program at UMMC resonates with radiologists
When he was a medical student deciding where to train as a specialist, Dr. Elliot Varney of Madison had his eye on Texas, but his heart in Mississippi. A 2019 graduate of the School of Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Varney was determined to do his residency in radiology, but hoped, at the same time, to earn his Ph.D. in radiology research, an option not available at UMMC then. "I wanted to stay at UMMC," said Varney, who grew up in the Gluckstadt/Madison area near Jackson, "because of my relationships here -- the personal ones, but also the ones with the faculty and the ones I had throughout medical school. "But I had interviewed at the University of Texas at San Antonio, which had the only radiology residency/Ph.D. program in the country." In mid-December, that changed, and Varney is now the first-ever trainee in a new program at UMMC: the Biomedical Imaging/Bioengineering Ph.D. track. "When we started the program, I thought he was the perfect inaugural candidate for it," said Dr. Candace Howard-Claudio, associate professor of radiology, vice chair of research in radiology and director of the new program.
Embattled welfare group paid $5 million for new USM volleyball center
John Jones doesn't play volleyball. The elderly construction worker mostly bides his time during the cold, rainy months -- the slow season for his employer, which builds swimming pools. Right now, Jones can't afford to turn on the electricity or water at his downtown Hattiesburg home. Every time he visits the local utility assistance agency, he said, "They keep giving me the run around." And yet, three miles west of his deteriorating neighborhood, a nonprofit funded by federal welfare dollars paid $5 million in cash to build a state-of-the-art volleyball facility on the University of Southern Mississippi campus. The nonprofit said it would serve the poor. The Mississippi Community Education Center, a nonprofit that receives a majority of its budget from taxpayer dollars intended to help people out of poverty, provided most of the funding for the volleyball center through an upfront five-year sublease agreement with the University's athletic foundation. The nonprofit owner, Nancy New, sat on the athletic foundation's board.
USM chorale students told to self-monitor for coronavirus
Some University of Southern Mississippi chorale students have been told to monitor themselves for coronavirus symptoms after the Southern Chorale returned from performances in South Korea. Fifty-one students and 11 faculty and guests traveled to the country in mid-February for the Jeju International Choral Festival. The Southern Chorale was one of 20 choirs from around the world invited to perform. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is a coronavirus outbreak in South Korea. Officials there have upgraded their response level to "grave" -- the highest level. On Monday, the CDC issued a Level 3 South Korea travel warning -- advising against all nonessential travel to the country. According to a statement on Wednesday from Jim Coll, the university's chief communication officer, the university took precautionary measures after hearing of the CDC's warning.
50 years later: JSU opens exhibit to honor 2 killed, 12 injured
The exhibit honors the men and women who experienced the horrifying shooting day, Gailya Porter was a student. She says she and her friends left their dorm to see what was going on when they got word that a car was on fire. Sitting on a hill, she says she saw heavily armed law enforcement officers in riot gear, marching eastward on Lynch Street. Gailya Porter said, "And they started shooting and a dear friend of mine, who is from my hometown, lifted me up and threw me through the door and fell on top of me. The friend that was with, he reached for her, but she jerked away and tried to get into the dorm and she was shot." By the time it was over, Phillip Gibbs and James Earl Green had been killed. JSU associate professor Robert Luckett said, "There were 12 others who were shot and dozens upon dozens of others were wounded in the chaos and the flying debris and of course the psychological impact of that night was pretty intense, so we're here tonight to lift up the legacy of those people who both lost their lives and who lived and survived and really a tribute to those people who've had to deal with this for the past 50 years."
U. of Alabama business students leave South Korea early amid coronavirus threat
Executive MBA program students at the University of Alabama who were on an international trip had to leave South Korea early over the growing threat of the coronavirus, the university told Thursday. "The university's Executive MBA program includes an international trip as part of the global business course. Students were allowed to opt out of the trip without any academic penalty. Once they committed, the trip became nonrefundable because it is contracted through a travel agency that plans the event several months in advance," the university said in a statement. "At the time of the group's departure, the CDC travel recommendation for South Korea was Level 1 ("watch and practice usual precautions"). While the group was in the country, the CDC placed South Korea at Level 2 ("practice enhanced precautions") after COVID-19 cases were reported approximately 150 miles from where the UA class was located." The students' travel "was promptly adjusted" following the Level 2 development and the reported cases, the university said.
Coronavirus 2020: Auburn cancels travel to South Korea, China; Urges Spring Break caution
Auburn University is temporarily suspending travel to South Korea for students, faculty and staff due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus. The university had previously suspended travel to China, the epicenter of COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus. The situation in Italy, which has seen a number of coronavirus cases, is being monitored. Students, faculty and staff who returned from those countries within the last four weeks or have been exposed to someone who is ill and has traveled to one of those locations is asked to call the Auburn Medical Clinic. "Our highest priority is the safety and well-being of our campus community," said Auburn Interim President Jay Gogue. "We are taking these steps out of an abundance of caution." Auburn is also encouraging students who are traveling for spring break -- particularly those traveling to countries affected by the virus -- to take necessary precautions to protect their health and that of others.
Auburn University takes early precautions against potential coronavirus
Auburn University President Jay Gogue has formed a task force to monitor the potential impacts of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, to campus, according to Campus Safety and Security. A report from the Centers for Disease Control earlier this week stated that the agency expects the number of U.S. cases to increase, according to an email distributed to students and faculty on Feb. 27. Though no cases have been reported in Alabama, the University said it would like to "keep the campus community informed." The task force is made up of health experts, emergency management personnel and other campus leaders. In accordance with the advisory group, the University is also temporarily suspending travel to South Korea, following its previous travel ban to China. It is keeping watch on Italy to determine if further action is needed concerning the coronavirus situation there.
LSU fraternity member accused of breaking into Tiger Stadium, damaging field while riding ATV
A 19-year-old LSU student and fraternity member arrested Thursday is accused of breaking into Tiger Stadium on two separate occasions and damaging the field with the unauthorized use of an ATV. Delta Chi member Clayton Fleetwood of New Jersey was booked on simple burglary, criminal trespassing, and two counts of unauthorized use of a movable (over $1,000). According to the LSU Police Department, Fleetwood allegedly broke into Tiger Stadium during late-night hours on Jan. 21 and Feb. 8. Authorities say during both incidents, surveillance video also captured Fleetwood driving a Kawasaki Mule ATV on the field, which was under construction at the time. During one of the incidents, police say Fleetwood is seen with another, unidentified person. Officials say the two are seen on camera "talking, kissing, and drinking what appear to be alcoholic beverages."
Georgia, university officials watching, prepping for virus
While state and University System of Georgia officials are still mainly in a watchful mode as the COVID-19 coronavirus spreads across the world, they are stepping up preparations for what could come. "It is important to note that at this time, the overall risk of COVID-19 to the general public remains low," according to a statement Wednesday from the Georgia Department of Public Health. The first goal, here and elsewhere, is to quickly identify a case of the virus if it crops up here. Despite having one of the world's busiest airports in Atlanta, health officials haven't yet seen a confirmed case of the new disease in Georgia. UGA meanwhile "has provided counseling and hosted information sessions to students seeking assistance and support," said UGA spokesman Greg Trevor in an email Thursday. "This week, for example, International Student Life hosted an information session at Memorial Hall Tuesday night." The university's International Student Advisory Board is also "working with fellow students to raise awareness about their needs and concerns," he said.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center prepping for coronavirus by stocking up on masks, respirators
Vanderbilt University Medical Center is conserving surgical masks and respirators to prepare for a spread of coronavirus in the U.S. amid a continued outbreak in China, which makes much of the protective gear worn at hospitals worldwide. Vanderbilt, which burns through masks and respirators faster than other hospitals because it is a teaching hospital, has intentionally cut back on the use of these items for about a month, said Dr. Thomas Talbot, the chief hospital epidemiologist. "With all that's happened in China, we anticipate there will be some decrease in these supplies," Talbot said. "How significant? We just don't know." This shift is a small but telling step taken to prepare for coronavirus, or COVID-19, a fast spreading virus that threatens to become a global pandemic. If the virus were to spread to Nashville, much of that outbreak will be tackled at Vanderbilt, the largest and most advanced hospital in the city.
Could Senate rebuke Betsy DeVos over borrower-defense rule?
For all of President Trump's controversial policies, it has been rare for the Republican Senate to formally condemn the administration. But lobbyists on both sides of the debate over U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's borrower-defense rule say it's increasingly possible that the Republican Senate could join the Democratic House in rebuking the administration over the rule critics say makes it harder for defrauded students to have their education loans forgiven. Lobbyists representing groups who support as well as oppose the rule stop short of predicting that the resolution sponsored by Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois will pass. But they say several Republicans are on the fence, making it possible that the proposal could get the four Republican votes needed to pass. Indeed, none of the eight moderate Republican senators, or those facing tough re-election races, contacted this week would say they will oppose the proposal. Instead aides either said the senators are undecided or declined to say where they stand.
Coronavirus Could Send Student Loan Rates Plunging To Record Lows
Worries about the economic impact of the coronavirus have sent stocks tumbling and many investors fleeing to bonds --- which could push rates on federal student loans to record lows. How does that work? Once you take out a federal student loan, the interest rate is fixed for life. But you'll pay different rates on loans that you take out each year you're in school, which can make it hard to get a handle on what your actual borrowing costs will be. Rates on federal student loans made to new borrowers are recalibrated once a year to take into account changes in the government's borrowing costs. They're indexed to 10-year Treasury yields, which today touched an all-time low of 1.24% in an investor "flight to safety." When investors rush into bonds, the greater demand for them pushes their yields down. The Treasury auction that will determine federal student loan interest rates for the 2020-21 academic year takes place on Tuesday, May 12.
Education Department Creates Coronavirus Task Force
Betsy DeVos, the U.S. secretary of education, announced Thursday that the Education Department is creating a task force to prepare for the possible impacts of the coronavirus. DeVos made the announcement during her appearance before the appropriations committee of the U.S. House of Representatives to discuss the Trump administration's proposed budget. Mitchell "Mick" Zais, the deputy secretary, will lead the task force. A spokeswoman for the department said in an email that the group will "lead the agency's continuity of operations plan and run point on the interagency work."
Scientists Hiding Foreign Ties Prompt Concerns From White House
The Trump administration may ask Congress to allow universities to share information about scientists who fail to disclose foreign ties, which is now barred by law. Hidden payments from foreign governments to U.S.-backed scientists is a top compliance pitfall for research institutions amid new scrutiny over how other countries are influencing or steal U.S. research. Researchers who fail to disclose these payments, as required by the National Institutes of Health and others, can hide by changing institutions, White House science adviser Kelvin K. Droegemeier said Thursday. "Legally, that information can't be shared," he said during a House Science Committee hearing on President Donald Trump's proposed federal research and development budget for fiscal year 2021. Droegemeier is the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The Association of American Universities is ready to work with OSTP as it develops new requirements around sharing that information, spokesman Pedro Ribeiro said.
Oklahoma students want change -- in the form of a new provost
It happened again -- this time at the University of Oklahoma. Two more professors used the N-word during class, angering students who say it was pedagogically unnecessary and hurtful. But what started as a protest over those incidents has escalated into a student sit-in Oklahoma's central administration building and calls for Provost Kyle Harper to resign. The university says it won't happen. "Our demands still have not been met, so we will continue to do a sit in, we will continue to do a hunger strike," organizers of the campus group Black Emergency Response Team, or BERT, said in a statement Thursday from their position in Evans Hall. That was after the university's interim president, Joseph Harroz, met with protesters late Wednesday and after Oklahoma released a statement saying that both parties "identified areas of agreement that will move our university forward."
Students protest at free speech conference
A University of California conference on free speech turned into a microcosm of the free speech battles regularly taking place on American college campuses after student activists showed up at the event in Washington Thursday and interrupted speakers to advocate for raises for the system's graduate teaching assistants. The handful of undergraduates representing COLA for All, a group pressing for a $1,412 monthly cost of living adjustment, or COLA, for teaching assistants at all UC campuses, at times stood in front of and interrupted speakers and panelists at #SpeechMatters2020, which was hosted by the UC National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement. The protesters, who are studying at the university system's Washington center, said it was ironic that the conference was addressing how institutions should allow campus activists to respectfully express themselves while, at the same time, conference organizers were moving the protesters to the side of the stage to keep their posters from blocking audience members' views of the speakers on the stage.
Children's literature inspires imagination
Angela Farmer, an assistant clinical professor in Mississippi State University's Shackouls Honors College, writes: Even though 2020 reiterates the ever-present dominance of social media in children's lives, it is important to recognize and emphasize the critical art of reading. Whether they are reading actual paperbound texts or prefer to use some form of digital intermediary like a Kindle, smartphone, or even a laptop computer, reading is critical to a child's intellectual, academic, and social development. ... More important that any one title or genre, children's literature is designed to allow them to imagine the world not as it is, but as it could be. Encouraging reading as a hobby, a pastime, or a passion, children need the opportunity to expand their world through the imagination only an innocent can truly embrace.

No. 10 Mississippi State beats Arkansas 92-83
Tenth-ranked Mississippi State was on upset alert ahead of its game against Arkansas. The Razorbacks have been one of the country's top scoring teams and the Bulldogs have been slumping on the defensive end of late. And, the Bulldogs' leading scorer, Rickea Jackson, was questionable due to illness. Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer turned to what he called his "secret weapon." Freshman guard Aliyah Matharu drew the start, played 38 minutes and scored 18 points as the Bulldogs beat Arkansas 92-83 on Thursday night. "She does not lack confidence," Schaefer said. "It's been a bit of a rollercoaster and there's no guarantee what she's going to do Sunday. But she just really played well. I'm so proud of her."
No. 10 Bulldogs get offensive in win over Arkansas
Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer felt certain he would be without star freshman Rickea Jackson against a high-scoring opponent in Arkansas on Thursday night. Jackson -- the Bulldogs' top scorer on the season -- came down with strep throat on Wednesday and had to be quarantined away from her teammates. So Schaefer started Aliyah Matharu for the first time and the freshman guard tied her career-high with 18 points in No. 10 MSU's 92-83 win over the Razorbacks. "Sometimes you've got to stir the pot and change things up," Schaefer said. Matharu had plenty of help from her teammates as well. Jessika Carter notched her 11th double-double of the season with 21 points and 11 rebounds while Jordan Danberry scored 19 points against her former team on senior night. Andra Espinoza-Hunter provided 13 points in 23 minutes off the bench and Chloe Bibby contributed 11 points in Jackson's absence from the starting lineup.
Matharu, Carter guide Mississippi State to win over Arkansas, double-bye in SEC Tournament
On a night that Mississippi State honored its lone senior in guard Jordan Danberry, it was the Bulldogs' youngsters that carried them to a 92-83 win over Arkansas Thursday night. After not playing more than eight minutes in a game since MSU's Jan. 26 win over Ole Miss, Aliyah Matharu offered the MSU faithful at Humphrey Coliseum a look at the instant-offense she can afford off the bench as she notched 10 of her 18 points in the first eight minutes of action. Riding her sharpshooting from beyond the 3-point line, six of Matharu's final eight points came from behind the arc. The minute guard also finished the night with seven rebounds and four assists. "Just playing (Jordan), being with my teammates everyday, you just get better," Matharu said postgame. "And when the opportunity presents itself you just have to be prepared and that's what I did." With former All-American forward and No. 1 overall WNBA Draft pick LaToya Thomas seated courtside, sophomore stalwart Jessika Carter quietly racked up her 11th double-double on the season in a performance reminiscent of Thomas' four-year MSU career. Finishing the night with 21 points and 11 rebounds, Carter was wildly effective -- shooting 9-of-12 from the floor.
Mississippi State secures No. 2 seed in SEC Women's Basketball Tournament
It was Jordan Danberry's senior night, but she shared the stage with freshman guard Aliyah Matharu on Thursday night at Humphrey Coliseum. Danberry played in her final regular season home game as a Bulldog. Matharu is bound to play in plenty more. If her performance was indicative of what's to come from her in a maroon and white uniform over the next few years, then she'll have a highly anticipated senior night of her own one day. Danberry, MSU's lone senior, scored 19 points and Matharu had 18 of her own to lead Mississippi State to a 92-83 victory over Arkansas. The Bulldogs (23-5, 12-3) SEC clinched the No. 2 seed in next week's SEC Tournament with the win. "I can't tell you how proud I am of this team and where they are," MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. "I thought we got better, y'all. That was the challenge to our team this week." Sunday's game against Ole Miss (7-21, 0-15 SEC) is inconsequential on paper, but it would mean a lot for MSU head coach Vic Schaefer and his team to head to Greenville riding high off a win over their rival. "I've been telling them, we have a lot to play for," Schaefer said.
Arkansas drops 10th straight to Mississippi State
Jessika Carter had 21 points and 11 rebounds for her 11th double-double of the season and five Mississippi State players scored in double figures as the No. 10 Bulldogs beat Arkansas 92-83 on Thursday night. The Bulldogs (24-5, 12-3 Southeastern Conference) shot 58% and dominated in the paint, outscoring the Razorbacks 56-34 inside and had a 38-25 edge in rebounding. The Razorbacks (21-7, 9-6) built a 26-24 lead in the first quarter behind 16 points from Alexis Tolefree. The Bulldogs limited Tolefree to just three points in the second and third quarter. Tolefree finished with 30 points on 10-of-18 shooting and had eight rebounds. Mississippi State outscored the Razorbacks by 21 points after the first quarter and had a 77-58 advantage going into the final frame. Mississippi State travels to Ole Miss on Sunday.
Mississippi State travels to play Dirtbags in top 25 series
No. 8 Mississippi State travels to California this weekend to take on No. 25 Long Beach State in a three-game series starting tonight at 8 p.m. The series continues Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. It will be the first road trip of the season for the Diamond Dogs (5-2) against an opponent they have only played once. Long Beach State eliminated MSU from the 1993 East Regional in Tallahassee, Florida, with a 2-1 victory. The Dirtbags are off to a 6-2 start and have won three-straight games. Long Beach State won a series from then 18th-ranked Wake Forest last weekend and also defeated San Diego 10-3 at home on Tuesday.
Jackson to host SWAC baseball tournament in May
The 2020 Southwestern Athletic Conference baseball tournament will be played in Jackson, the conference announced Thursday. The tournament will be played May 13-17 at Smith-Wills Stadium. The championship game will be televised by ESPN. The SWAC Tournament had been played in New Orleans from 2014-19. The move to Jackson is part of a larger push by KSG-Overtime Sports, which manages Smith-Wills and MGM Park in Biloxi, to bring bigger events to the 45-year-old Jackson stadium. MGM Park will host the Conference USA baseball tournament May 20-24. Its championship game will be televised by CBS Sports Network. Details of the deal to bring the tournament to Jackson were not immediately available. "The mayor's office along with Overtime Sports truly stepped up and offered an incentive package that made it impossible for us not to consider and embrace. We look forward to the growth of our baseball tournament in the City of Jackson," SWAC commissioner Charles McClelland said.
Louisiana bill filed to allow collegiate athletes to make money off their name, image, likeness
A bill that would allow collegiate athletes in Louisiana to make money off their name, image and likeness was filed Thursday, a development that officially thrusts the state into the ongoing national debate over player compensation. Filed by Sen. Patrick Connick, R-Marrero, the bill would prohibit athletic associations, conferences, schools or any "other group or organization" from keeping collegiate athletes from earning compensation "from the use of his name, image, or likeness." The bill also would allow collegiate athletes to hire professional representation or legal representation, such as agents, as long as those representatives are registered in the state and are complying with state and federal law. If passed, the proposed law would take effect on Jan. 1, 2023. A task force would also be created -- made up of the state's college administrators, coaches, athletes and the Louisiana High School Athletic Association -- to study the issue and make recommendations by Aug. 1, 2021. Connick said he informed LSU that he was filing such a bill "as a courtesy," but the institution was not informed of its specific details.
Spurrier's restaurant announces new details, operating partner
Spurrier's Gridiron Grille, the upcoming Celebration Pointe restaurant founded by Heisman Trophy-winning University of Florida football player and legendary coach Steve Spurrier, unveiled some new details on the decor and menu, and announced its operator. The 16,700-square-foot restaurant will include three indoor-outdoor bars and a 5,500-square-foot rooftop lounge, called "Visors," that will overlook the Celebration Pointe Promenade. Customers will be enveloped in a mid-century modern atmosphere, which will also include a sports memorabilia exhibit from Spurrier's decades as a player and coach, including a display of his visor collection. His 1966 Heisman Trophy will serve as the centerpiece. A variety of American-casual menu items will be on the menu, including avocado-topped burgers, grilled chicken, seafood, salads and more. Desserts inspired by the coach's wife, Jeri Spurrier, will also be dished out, and include recipes like pecan pie a la mode and chocolate chip cookies.
Will Congress save the Sea Unicorns, Rumble Ponies from MLB ax?
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are fighting to preserve America's pastime, taking aim at Major League Baseball over its plan to shutter 42 minor league teams in 22 states and the league's response to the sign-stealing cheating scandal. A bipartisan group of senators introduced a resolution Thursday urging Major League Baseball to abandon a plan to slash the number of affiliated minor league clubs, which has garnered harsh criticism on Capitol Hill. Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal and West Virginia Republican Shelley Moore Capito teamed up to lead the effort, which follows similar House action. The proposal highlights the economic, social, cultural and charitable contributions these teams anchor in their communities. It has drawn support across party lines, including Iowa Republicans Charles E. Grassley and Joni Ernst and Democratic presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. Congressional dissatisfaction with Major League Baseball goes beyond the planned minor league contraction and at least one lawmaker is calling for hearings to examine baseball's sign-stealing scandal centered on the Houston Astros.

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