Tuesday, March 3, 2020   
MSU Monitoring Coronavirus And Potential Impacts To Study Abroad Programs
The coronavirus continues to be an issue of concern all across the country. In the United States, six people have died from the illness, all from Washington state. However, the coronavirus is also impacting people in other ways. Mississippi State University is taking precautions with its study abroad programs as students get set to travel to countries where it's been detected. "We're trying to balance a healthy respect for this virus and what it could turn into, and not getting into overreaction and panic," said Sid Salter, MSU Chief Communications Officer. This summer more students are scheduled to take their studies to affected countries including Italy, France, Japan, and South Korea. Salter said they're closely studying the potential impacts the coronavirus could have on their travels to those areas. "We're looking at obviously academic impacts, because we're balancing safety between plans that students and the faculty members have made, and how this would impact them in the long term if the study abroad opportunities are something that they need to complete their education," said Salter.
New transportation commissioner speaks at Rotary Club
The Starkville Rotary Club heard from one of the state's newest elected officials at its meeting Monday. Newly elected Republican Northern District Transportation Commissioner John Caldwell gave a report on his agency after his first two months in charge. Caldwell is a retired United States Marine Corps officer and former DeSoto County Supervisor. He is a native of Nesbit. He chose to run for the seat after former commissioner Mike Tagert of Starkville announced that he would not seek reelection. The state is divided into three transportation districts, with the northern district covering the most counties of the three. The Northern District is the largest of the three transportation districts in the state. "It's got more miles," Caldwell said. "It's got more municipalities, more counties. They tell me we're getting the most money. I haven't seen that yet, but it depends on how you count the money sometimes."
Mississippi gets about $16M from new lottery since November
Mississippi has collected about $16 million from a state lottery that started operating in November. The Mississippi Lottery Corporation said Monday that it deposited nearly $8.4 million into the state treasury on Feb. 20. That is the net proceeds from lottery games played during January.The state received $7.6 million from lottery games played during December. Mississippi legislators voted in 2018 to create the games of chance as a way to generate money for infrastructure. Mississippi was one of six states without a lottery, but people from the state were driving to Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee to buy tickets. Hiring staff, vetting retailers and starting games in Mississippi took more than a year.
Gov. Tate Reeves appoints Chip Mills to open judicial post
Gov. Tate Reeves appointed Fulton native Michael P. "Chip" Mills Jr. to fill the judicial vacancy in the 1st Circuit Court District. "Chip is a highly experienced attorney with a history of dedicated public service," Reeves said Monday in announcing the appointment. "His experience as a prosecutor handling complex capital cases, his civil litigation experience, as well as his private and government practice make Chip uniquely qualified to serve as circuit judge." "I am thankful for Governor Reeves' trust and confidence," Mills said in a statement. "The opportunity to work for the people of the First Circuit Court District is a distinct privilege, as I intend to serve with dignity, strength and common sense. Being very familiar with the Circuit, I look forward to working with the men and women of each of the seven courthouses across the District."
Area lawmakers file bills to change landscape of circuit court districts
With a legislative deadline on the horizon, two north Mississippi lawmakers have filed a bill in the Legislature that would reorganize the state's 1st Circuit Court District -- one of the busiest state court districts in the entire state. State Rep. Nick Bain, a Republican from Corinth, filed House Bill 523, which would cut certain counties out of the state's 1st Circuit Court District and add an additional circuit court district. Currently, the state's 1st Circuit Court District covers seven counties: Alcorn, Prentiss, Tishomingo, Itawamba, Lee, Monroe and Pontotoc. State Rep. John "Trey" Lamar, a Republican from Senatobia, has filled a more comprehensive version of the same topic that includes Bain's same proposal to reorganize the 1st district but would also create a 24th Circuit Court District that would only contain DeSoto County. DeSoto County is currently part of the state's 17th circuit district. The deadline for committees to report bills out if its committee is midnight on Tuesday. If committees fail to take up either of the bills, both measures are dead.
DHS embezzlement case: Bills stall, no legislative hearings yet for 'biggest scandal in the history of the state'
The early February arrests of John Davis, the former executive director of the state Department of Human Services and five others, some politically connected, on charges of fraud and embezzlement of public funds shocked legislators as they completed the first month of the 2020 session. But thus far bills filed as a response to what has been called the largest public corruption scandal in the state's history have not progressed during the legislative process. John Polk, R-Hattiesburg, the chair of the Senate's Accountability, Efficiency and Transparency Committee, said he believes the laws are in place to combat such instances of public corruption, but said sometimes people are going to break the law. Still, Polk said he would be willing to consider proposals to enact more safeguards. Tuesday is the deadline for bills to pass out of committee in the originating chamber.
State legislators are looking to make alcohol purchases easier for residents of Mississippi
The Mississippi legislature is considering a number of bills that could allow the sale of alcohol on Sunday. It could also give grocers a green light for selling wine inside their stores and even give consumers the ability to buy wine and have it shipped directly to their homes. For Bin 605 Wine and Spirits Manager, Connor Schwartz, the possibility of new liquor laws allowing sales on Sunday has both pros and cons. "It's also another day you're open and another day to generate revenue. But, it's also our only guaranteed day off of the week... Plus side: it's another day to make another dollar. Flipside: it's my guaranteed day off," said Schwartz. Schwartz is also concerned about regulations that could go along with the new laws. "Is there going to be set times? Are we going to have normal hours of operation, or will be there be a limited operation basis? Also, how will that affect counties that are half dry and half wet," Schwartz said. Regardless of the details in how the laws are written, Schwartz believes that this could be bad for some local small businesses.
'An Abortion Desert': Mississippi Women May Feel Effect of Louisiana Case
A Louisiana abortion law would turn the Bayou State into "an abortion desert" and would have strong ripple effects for women in Mississippi and other states across the country, opponents say. The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments in the case Wednesday. In June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo, attorneys with the Center for Reproductive Rights are asking the court to strike down a Louisiana "admitting privileges" law that conservative state legislators designed to force the closure of the state's three remaining clinics. It would require physicians who provide abortions to get notoriously difficult-to-obtain admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of any clinic where they perform abortions. In 2017, a federal court struck down a similar law in Mississippi that would have forced the state's only abortion clinic to shutter; only one doctor performs abortions in the Magnolia State, and he does not have admitting privileges. T.J. Tu, the center's senior counsel for litigation, told the Jackson Free Press Monday that a ruling in favor of the Louisiana law could open the door for lawmakers in Mississippi to renew their push for an admitting-privileges law here.
Tornadoes hit Tennessee, killing at least 19 people
Tornadoes ripped across Tennessee early Tuesday, shredding at least 40 buildings and killing at least 19 people. One of the twisters caused severe damage across downtown Nashville, destroying the stained glass in a historic church and leaving hundreds of people homeless. Schools, courts, transit lines, an airport and the state Capitol were closed, and some damaged polling stations had to be moved only hours before Super Tuesday voting began. Metro Nashville police said crews were responding to about 40 building collapses. Among them was a popular music venue that had just held an election rally for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. The crowd left shortly before the twister struck the Basement East Nashville, the Tennessean reported. The disaster affected voting in Tennessee, one of 14 Super Tuesday states. Some polling sites in Nashville were moved, and sites across Davidson and county and Wilson counties were opening an hour late but still closing at the same time, Secretary of State Tre Hargett announced.
Biden, Bernie's Super Tuesday brawl to shape Democratic race
Millions of voters from Maine to California headed to the polls on Super Tuesday, the delegate-rich prize in the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination that's shaping up as a contest between two starkly different visions for the party's future as it hurtles toward a November rematch with President Donald Trump. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has energized liberals and young voters, sought to pull away from the rest of the field, while former vice president Joe Biden hoped to ride a wave of momentum and endorsements to cement himself as the standard-bearer for the party's moderate wing. The two men, riding atop a rapidly shrinking Democratic field, have assembled coalitions of disparate demographics and political beliefs, and the day could help shape whether the nomination fight will stretch until the party's convention this summer in Milwaukee.
Fed cuts interest rate half a percentage point, largest emergency cut since the financial crisis
The Federal Reserve made an emergency interest rate cut Tuesday, slashing the benchmark U.S. interest rate by half a percentage point, the biggest cut since the financial crisis and a sign that global central banks are prepared to act to contain the economic fallout from the coronavirus. The U.S. central bank has not made an emergency move like this since late 2008. Fed leaders voted unanimously in favor of the rate reduction to help stabilize the economy and financial markets as the coronavirus spreads. The highly unusual move comes on the heels of other central banks around the world lowering their interest rates and calls by President Trump for a "big" Fed rate cut. Stocks initially surged on the news, but the Dow Jones then slide back into negative territory, a reminder of how volatile the situation remains as everyone from doctors to Wall Street traders are trying to get a handle on how much more the coronavirus will spread and how widespread the damage will be.
Meet the federal government's coronavirus expert
Whenever the U.S. is threatened by a virus, Anthony Fauci can usually be found sitting in front of a television camera explaining the situation to Americans. For more than three decades, Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has served as the face of the federal government during public health threats. He has carefully cultivated a demeanor of calm urgency, one that TV hosts and bookers rely on to inform the public without inciting panic. "He's Mr. Authoritative. You want an authoritative statement or idea, you go to Tony. He says what he knows, and he doesn't say what he doesn't know. He's not a bullshitter," said Ezekiel Emanuel, a former top Obama administration official and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, Fauci's longtime friend. Now, as the coronavirus has spread to more than 60 countries around the world, Fauci is once again in the spotlight. He has stood beside President Trump at two news conferences in recent days, and he has spent hours meeting with Vice President Pence, who is overseeing the administration's response.
Dianne Feinstein warns of 'a rise in racism' against Asian-Americans due to coronavirus
Racism toward Asian-Americans is growing because the coronavirus has its roots in China, Sen. Dianne Feinstein warned Monday. The California Democrat cited "a rise in racism toward Asian-Americans because the virus is associated with China. This is unconscionable and it's not the American way." And, she added, "People of all ages, races and ethnicities are susceptible to this disease. Bigotry toward any one group for a virus they have nothing to do with makes no sense." Feinstein listed a series of myths that have emerged as the virus spreads. One involved claims about China, while others dealt with other sources of misinformation. For instance, she cited the claim that the coronavirus can be transmitted via mail from China. Not so. The World Health Organization reports that "the coronavirus cannot survive for long on objects in the mail and it is safe to handle packages and letters from China," Feinstein said.
Worship in the Age of Coronavirus: Prayer, Elbow Bumps, Hand Sanitizer
When it came time for the sign of peace ritual during Sunday Mass at St. Mary Catholic Church in southeastern Wisconsin, hundreds of parishioners did exactly what their pastor had asked. Instead of reaching across the pews to shake hands, they greeted each other with gentle bows. Fear of the coronavirus has rippled across the country and directly into places of worship. Religious leaders, mindful that cases have been discovered in at least 14 states so far, have begun taking measures that could discourage the spread of the virus in the large groups common in churches, synagogues and mosques. Religious leaders in the United States said they were struggling to keep their members as safe from contagion as possible while still offering the usual comfort of gathering together to pray as a group. At St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Brattleboro, Vt., the Rev. Mary Lindquist made a point of telling worshipers on Sunday that she was sanitizing her hands before distributing communion. Fewer people opted for wine, she said.
Bills to keep Ole Miss from moving monument are 'likely dead' despite late push by alumni, pro-Confederate groups
Ahead of a March 3 deadline to pass general bills through committee at the state Capitol, several alumni of the University of Mississippi and Confederate heritage groups are asking legislative leadership to support bills that would keep the university from moving its Confederate monument. University leaders, including Chancellor Glenn Boyce, Athletics Director Keith Carter and the chief fundraising officials on campus, support a student-formed plan to move the university's 30-foot monument from the center of campus to an on-campus graveyard where Confederate soldiers are buried. After the 12-member board of trustees at the Institutions of Higher Learning tabled a January vote that could have approved or killed plans to relocate the monument, several lawmakers filed bills this session that would prohibit public entities from moving war memorial monuments. But legislative leaders told Mississippi Today on Monday morning that the monument bills would likely not be taken up before Tuesday's deadline, a move that would effectively kill them.
A Question of Repair: Recounting the arrests of 89 black Ole Miss activists in 1970
The integration of the University of Mississippi by James Meredith in 1962 set a precedent of racial tension that would reverberate throughout the campus for years to come. With the founding of the Black Student Union happening around 1968, African American students -- approximately 200 of the over 7,000 total population -- were forced together by a need for community and organization against their treatment from the administration and fellow student body, according to Donald Cole. "I was scared, but (we) had to act brave," he said. "The good feeling was that I think we got a message over... We felt like the message was going to go beyond our other protests, go beyond the Mississippian." Cole, now retired, was an associate professor of mathematics and an assistant provost and assistant to the chancellor for multicultural affairs at Ole Miss. Since 1993, he made an impact on the university as a faculty member. However, it was 23 years earlier when he and 88 other black students sat in jail cells in Lafayette County and Parchman for standing up against the racism perpetuated at the same university.
Political endorsements have minimal impact according to a local political science professor
Super Tuesday is in a matter of hours and Democratic presidential candidates will battle it out in 14 states. Mississippians will head to the polls next week, but how important are political endorsement? It may mean little to nothing for a particular candidate in a competitive primary. "We don't see endorsements having very much weight in more recent elections you know people have so many sources and information that one particular source or endorsement doesn't seem to be very influential," said Dr. Stephen Phillips, assistant professor of History and Political Science at Belhaven University in Jackson. In Mississippi, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mayor Mike Bloomberg have picked up big name endorsements. "Even from both parties voter are really more independent than ever as far as their thinking on who they're going to choose," Phillips said. Ultimately, he said endorsements have a minimal impact on voters.
William Carey taking precautions to keep students abroad safe from coronavirus
William Carey University is a missions based school and regularly sends students abroad and on mission trips. The school currently has students overseas and with the coronavirus spreading in several countries, the university is taking precautions and monitoring the students that are abroad. "We have a few students overseas," said Dr. Garry Breland, vice president of Academic Affairs. "We do not have any in countries that are high on the concern list, but we have been in touch with those students and we'll continue to communicate with them to be sure that their not only safe but feeling safe where they are." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued travel advisories for several nations battling the coronavirus. "We are limiting travel to countries that are on the Level 2 or Level 3 travel advisory list of the CDC and so far, we do not have any travel plans to those countries," Breland said. "Of course, that may change day-to-day as new advisories are posted, so we are watching that closely and being prepared to take action if necessary."
Stepfather of man accused of killing two Alcorn State students arrested
The stepfather of a man charged with two counts of murder in the shooting deaths of two Alcorn State students has been arrested. Derry Dunmore, 45, has been charged with accessory after the fact and tampering with evidence. Dunmore is the stepfather of Jerrell Davis, who made his initial appearance on the two counts of murder Sunday in Claiborne County Justice Court. The alleged shooter now faces a $2 million bond. Two others have been charged with accessory after the fact of murder: 20-year-old Vontavious Green and 21-year-old Carlton Hall.
Itawamba Community College debuts new Academic and Student Center on Tupelo campus
Itawamba Community College debuted its new Academic and Student Center at its Tupelo campus on Monday. The two-story structure sits at the college's Eason Boulevard entrance and replaces the old one-story building. The Tupelo building is similar to ICC's Student Services building on its Fulton campus. The first floor will house a bookstore, a coffee shop, cafeteria, business office, financial aid office, advising center, a 48-seat computer lab and a conference room. The second floor will house 14 faculty offices and 14 classrooms for social sciences, fine arts and business courses.
Auburn cancels all study abroad programs because of coronavirus
Auburn University recalled all of its students traveling abroad on Monday due to the coronavirus in the wake of a CDC advisory urging colleges to postpone or cancel student foreign exchange programs because of the epidemic. The move, which includes the return of all faculty and staff traveling internationally, comes four days after Auburn suspended travel to Italy, Iran, South Korea and China -- the epicenter of the global outbreak of the virus, known as COVID-19. The virus, for which there is no vaccine, has infected tens of thousands of people across the world and killed more than 3,000 people, including two in the United States. The school said international travel will be suspended "until further notice." The CDC advised colleges and universities to consider postponing or cancelling upcoming student foreign exchange programs. Auburn has abroad programs in five continents. There are no reported cases of COVID-19 in Alabama.
Georgia colleges tell study abroad students to self-quarantine
Georgia's largest colleges and universities have now suspended study abroad programs in three nations significantly impacted by the deadly coronavirus and are making students self-quarantine while overseas or before returning to campus. The University of Georgia sent notice to 84 students Friday in its study abroad program in Italy that the program has been suspended and those in Italy are being brought home. The UGA students in Italy cannot return to campus in Athensuntil conducting a two-week self-quarantine, it said in a message to those students. Georgia State and Kennesaw State universities said Monday they are asking students who had been in South Korea, another nation struggling with the virus, to act similarly upon their return. About 50 Georgia Tech students in a study abroad program in France, many of whom recently traveled to Italy, are under a two-week quarantine. Georgia Tech said in a statement Monday the self-quarantine is being done "out of an abundance of caution and at the direction of French and international health agencies."
43 U. of Florida students, faculty returning from Italy quarantined
Over 40 University of Florida students and faculty members have been asked to quarantine themselves after their study abroad program in Italy was cut short last week amid growing worries about the spread of coronavirus. UF spokesman Steve Orlando confirmed Monday that the university's architecture program in the northeast city of Vicenza was shut down last week, and the 41 students and two faculty members are returning to the United States in phases. No one in the group has shown virus symptoms, which include fever and shortness of breath. The quarantine is voluntary, he said. The Florida Board of Governors urged anyone returning from China, Italy, Japan or Iran -- where cases have been highest -- to isolate themselves for 14 days. While some have opted to stay in their homes, UF officials have also made arrangements for some students to be isolated elsewhere in Gainesville because they had not planned on returning to UF before the end of the semester in late April, Orlando said. Though he would not say where, he said the students or faculty won't be housed on campus.
U. of Tennessee cancels study abroad in Italy because of coronavirus warnings
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville has suspended study abroad trips to Italy for the spring semester because of the coronavirus, the university announced this weekend. UT had previously suspended study abroad to China and South Korea for the same reason. There are currently 33 UT students studying in Italy who will return to the United States to finish the semester. On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an "avoid nonessential travel" advisory for Italy, as several areas were affected by the virus. UT has received no reports of students affected by the coronavirus, the university said in a news release. "Our commitment to the health and safety of our students is paramount, but we know that this decision is a difficult disruption for them," Provost David Manderscheid said in the release. UT students were primarily studying in Milan, Rome or Florence, according to the release. They will be reimbursed for their airfare, and alternate academic arrangements will be made.
U. of Kentucky secures $66 million for new USDA research lab
The University of Kentucky has secured nearly $66 million in federal money to build a new U.S. Department of Agriculture cattle and equine research lab. The location of the new research facility has not yet been determined. Also unclear is when the new USDA research lab will open, UK officials said Monday. "The university is not ready at this time to make any announcements regarding location of a lab," said Jay Blanton, a spokesman for the university. " We are in ongoing discussions with the USDA regarding the scope and location of the lab. We will keep everyone apprised as this process unfolds and a formal announcement is appropriate." U.S. Sen Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, announced the $65.9 million funding agreement in December after it was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives. It received final approval earlier this year. "The resources and support Sen. McConnell has secured for a Forage Animal Product Lab at UK's College of Agriculture, Food and Environment will help us not simply continue our progress but ensure that we can accelerate it on behalf of Kentucky's agricultural economy," said UK President Eli Capilouto.
Texas A&M University System discourages international travel during coronavirus threat
The Texas A&M University System issued new restrictions Monday on international travel for students, faculty and staff members and said it would create a team of medical experts to respond to the global coronavirus outbreak. Chancellor John Sharp said in a letter to the presidents of the system's 11 universities and directors of its eight state agencies that the system had a responsibility "to promote the health and safety of students, faculty and staff." Beginning immediately, the university system will discourage all foreign travel by students and employees while the situation surrounding the outbreak remains uncertain. The system would also encourage all students, faculty and staff members to return from all countries labeled a Level 1 risk or higher by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as soon as practical. The announcement follows Texas A&M University's decision last week to cancel spring break study abroad trips to Italy, citing the coronavirus threat.
Trump's science adviser meets with A&M, UT leaders in College Station
President Donald Trump's science adviser Kelvin Droegemeier met with Texas A&M University and University of Texas leaders in College Station on Monday to discuss research security, integrity, administrative requirements and other issues. Droegemeier is the director of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy where he leads coordination of science and technology initiatives across the federal government. Droegemeier chairs the National Science and Technology Council on behalf of Trump. On Sunday, he was one of three key administration officials added to the president's Coronavirus Task Force. Droegemeier is also a professor at the University of Oklahoma. In May, the NSTC formally established the Joint Committee on the Research Environment. JCORE has subcommittees that address security, integrity and research environments, including harassment and discrimination. Each subcommittee includes about two dozen leaders from areas of federal science, foreign affairs and security agencies.
CDC tells colleges to 'consider' canceling foreign exchange programs because of coronavirus
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that colleges should "consider" canceling upcoming student foreign exchange programs and asking current program participants to return to their home countries in light of the global outbreak of a new coronavirus. The CDC guidance for student travel at institutions of higher education was issued Sunday. Colleges have already canceled many overseas programs in countries with high rates of local transmission of the virus formally called COVID-19, most notably China and Italy. But the CDC guidance is seemingly global in scope, referring to foreign travel by students in general. Although it is somewhat ambiguous in its wording, the CDC guidance could also be read as referring to both foreign exchange students hosted by U.S. institutions and to Americans studying abroad.
Letters Urge Betsy DeVos To Erase Student Loans For Borrowers With Disabilities
The U.S. Department of Education must act to help thousands of student loan borrowers who have severe disabilities; that's the message of two letters sent Tuesday to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Because of their disabilities, these borrowers qualify to have their federal student loans erased. But one letter, signed by more than 30 advocacy groups, says the department has made the application process so burdensome that most borrowers never get the help they're entitled to. A second letter, signed by the student loan advocates of seven states and the District of Columbia, similarly urges the department to clear away unnecessary administrative hurdles and to automatically discharge the loans of all eligible borrowers with permanent disabilities. In a statement to NPR, Education Department Press Secretary Angela Morabito suggested the department is open to change. The letters come after an NPR investigation revealed that only 28% of eligible borrowers with disabilities -- identified by the Education Department between March 2016 and September 2019 -- have either had their loans erased or are on track for that to happen.
Some states make it harder for college students to vote
Vanderbilt University student Will Newell wishes it was easier for college students like him to cast ballots in Tennessee, one of 14 states holding a presidential primary on Super Tuesday. The campus has no locations for early voting, so students must visit an off-campus polling location to cast a ballot on Election Day. Newell drives but worries that many students who don't have their own transportation won't make it to a precinct. He said some campus groups offer rides to students, but the university itself does not provide a shuttle. He supports a bill introduced in the Tennessee Legislature that would require early voting locations at large colleges and universities in the state. That's not the only restriction working against college students in the state. Tennessee, where overall voter turnout is low, is among several states that does not allow a college student ID. But it does allow a handgun license. As Democratic candidates seek a boost from young voters in 2020, their impact at the polls could be blunted in a number of states that make voting more difficult for college students.
Could Republican meddling impact Democratic primary?
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford writes: The Republican primary set for March 10th offers few real contests. President Donald Trump will easily overwhelm Bill Weld and Roque De La Fuente in the presidential primary. Rep. Trent Kelly is unopposed in the 1st Congressional District. It doesn't matter who wins the 2nd District primary among Thomas Carey, Brian Flowers, and B.C. Hammond since incumbent Rep. Bennie Thompson will win easily in November. Rep. Michael Guest should have little trouble with challenger James Tulp in the 3rd District. While the 4th District ballot has four choices, Rep. Steven Palazzo should readily handle Carl Boyanton, Robert Deming, and Samuel Hickman. The Democratic primary is another story. ... So, given the lackluster races on the GOP ballot, will voters who usually vote Republican choose instead to meddle in the Democratic races?
Meet the man behind Chris McDaniel's bill to force media to report 'vindication of the accused'
Mississippi Today's Adam Ganucheau writes: Any given legislative session, Mississippi lawmakers file bills that turn our heads as reporters. But a bill filed by Sen. Chris McDaniel this year -- a bill that passed Senate committee last week -- especially got our attention. The bill, called the "Stop Guilt by Accusation Act," would legally require media outlets to follow up on outcomes of cases involving public officials previously reported on by those same outlets. In other words, if a newspaper writes an article about a public official engaging in illegal or unethical conduct, that newspaper would be obligated by law to report the outcome of the litigation process. "I knew it'd probably get your attention," McDaniel joked when we asked him about it on our podcast. "Unfortunately, in the modern era of the press, both sides have managed to weaponize press organizations. Since the press has been weaponized, in some areas, the press has not been as fair as they should have been."

Gameday: Five Things to Know About Mississippi State-South Carolina
The calendar turns to March and another fellow NCAA Tournament hopeful is on the horizon as Mississippi State travels to South Carolina for a NCAA Quad 1 road opportunity on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. on the SEC Network at Colonial Life Arena. The Bulldogs begin the final week of the regular season in a fourth-place tie with Florida and currently hold the tiebreaker over the Gators for a double bye at next week's SEC Tournament. The two teams trail Auburn and LSU by one game for second place and are one-game ahead of the Gamecocks who sit in sole possession of the sixth spot.
Emily Williams strikes out 14 as Mississippi State downs UT Martin
Mississippi State pitcher Emily Williams has found her groove. Not long removed from a sophomore season in which she struggled mightily in finding the strike zone, Williams continued her standout junior campaign with a complete game, one-hit shutout of UT Martin on Monday afternoon at Nusz Park. "I just have a lot of support," Williams said. "We have a lot of pitchers; everybody has been doing well. Everybody's got your back, and if you don't have a good day it's nice to know that somebody is behind you." Generally subdued in her actions and speech, Williams quietly retired the first seven Skyhawk batters she faced with a devastating mix of a rise ball and changeup. Tossing just 76 pitches through five innings, the Carrollton, Georgia, product matched a career-high with 14 strikeouts on the afternoon. "She's got some great spin, some great movement," MSU first-year coach Samantha Ricketts said
Three Mississippi State softball players earn SEC weekly awards
The Mississippi State softball team earned a share of all three of the Southeastern Conference's weekly awards, the league announced Monday. Sophomore outfielder Chloe Malau'ulu was named the SEC co-player of the week, junior Annie Willis was named co-pitcher of the week, and freshman shortstop Madisyn Kennedy was named co-freshman of the week. "I'm really proud of Chloe, Annie and Madi for all of the hard work they have been putting in to be recognized," head coach Samantha Ricketts said in a news release from Mississippi State. "I think it speaks a lot to our team and the focus we have on getting better every day. Chloe has been strong all year in the middle of the lineup and has played a great right field for us as well. Annie's poise and confidence on the mound is fun to play behind, and she just continues to attack hitters. Madi carries herself like an upperclassman, and I really like the maturity of her at-bats. She is a steady presence for us every day."
Mississippi State's Aliyah Matharu wins second SEC honor this season
For the second time this season, Mississippi State's Aliyah Matharu has been selected as a the SEC Freshman of the Week. Matharu posted 18 points in her first career start against Arkansas on Thursday and followed up with a career-high 24 points at Ole Miss on Sunday. She shot 15 of 26 from the field and 9 of 16 from behind the arc in those games while also grabbing 11 rebounds, five assists and two steals. The 5-foot-7 guard from Washington D.C. is averaging 6.7 points and 9.4 minutes per game this season. It is the fifth time for an MSU player to be picked as the SEC Freshman of the Week this season with Rickea Jackson honored three times.
Finalists for C Spire Gillom & Howell Trophies announced
The finalists for the C Spire Gillom and Howell Trophies have been announced. The awards are presented to the top women's (Gillom) and men's (Howell) college basketball players in Mississippi each year, and they'll be awarded during a ceremony at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame on March 9th. The finalists for the Gillom Award, named in honor Ole Miss alum Peggy Gillom, include: Mississippi State F Rickea Jackson, leads MSU in scoring with 14.7 ppg; Mississippi State F/C Jessika Carter, averaging 14 ppg, 54 blocks on the season; and Delta State F Quantesha Patterson, Averaging a double-double with 16.6 ppg and 13.2 rbg. The finalists for the Howell Trophy, named in honor of former MSU and NBA star, Bailey Howell, include: Mississippi State F Reggie Perry, SEC Player of the Year candidate, leads MSU with 17.2 ppg; Ole Miss PG Breein Tyree, averaging 23.2 ppg in SEC play; and Tougaloo F Ledarius Woods, averaging 21 ppg. Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer Van Chancellor, who has coached in high school, college and professional basketball, will be the featured speaker at the banquet.
End of a tradition: State tournament moves from Big House to Ole Miss for title games
Mississippi sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes: This is the first week of March, so you know basketballs are bouncing and sneakers are squeaking in Mississippi Coliseum right off of I-55 in downtown Jackson. Yes, and yellow school buses are bringing young'uns from all over the state to the capital city for the state high school tournament. All that was true Monday when the first eight semifinal games were played. There will be eight more games Tuesday and eight more Wednesday, all semifinal games. But that is when a long, long Magnolia State basketball tradition will end. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Mississippi's state championship games -- 12 in all -- will move to The Pavilion at Ole Miss, marking the first time in more than half a century the state championship games will not be played in Mississippi Coliseum.

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