Monday, August 31, 2020   
 
PRAM honors MSU students, employees with top state public relations awards
Mississippi State University spring graduate Marisa Laudadio is the 2020 Student of the Year for the Public Relations Association of Mississippi, joining other MSU students and professionals receiving high honors during the annual PRAM awards ceremony. MSU students and employees received more than two dozen awards at the ceremony. The PRAM Student of the Year Award, presented by CSpire, comes with a $1,000 scholarship. Laudadio is a political science and communication/public relations double-major from Walnut. She graduated in May as an MSU Stephen D. Lee Scholar, earning a 4.0 GPA for both of her bachelor's degrees.
 
Fall Flower & Garden Fest goes virtual for 2020
The 2020 Fall Flower & Garden Fest will be a virtual, educational event this year. The in-person fest is normally held in October on the grounds of the Mississippi State University Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Crystal Springs. Educational gardening videos and other materials will be available on the Fall Flower & Garden Fest website beginning Sept. 1. Registration is not required, and the content is free. "In light of COVID-19 cases still persisting in Mississippi, we believe this is the best option," said Rick Snyder, fest organizer and vegetable specialist with the MSU Extension Service. "This was a difficult decision, and we know that thousands of our regular attendees will be very disappointed." Experts with the Extension Service and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station will share information on a variety of topics, including research updates, how-to videos, and information on caring for gardens, including pest and disease management.
 
Fall Flower & Garden Fest goes virtual for 2020
The 2020 Fall Flower & Garden Fest will be a virtual, educational event this year. The in-person fest is normally held in October on the grounds of the Mississippi State University Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Crystal Springs. Educational gardening videos and other materials will be available on the Fall Flower & Garden Fest website beginning Sept. 1. Registration is not required, and the content is free. More than 100 videos covering a huge variety of horticultural and home gardening topics will be available. They are divided into seven categories: vegetable gardening, healthy cooking, flowers and arrangements, landscapes and lawns, pests and diseases, fruits for the homeowner, and small-scale gardens and herbs. To view the videos and other educational content, visit the Fall Flower & Garden Fest page on the Extension website.
 
Unity Park will honor two new civil rights champions in 2021
Starkville's Unity Park will start accepting nominations Tuesday for individuals who have worked for civil rights for the Black community in Oktibbeha County. Founded in 2013, the park is dedicated to recognizing individuals and events that advanced civil rights both locally and nationally. Honorees include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Douglas L. Conner, former Gov. William Winter, Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer, Wilson Ashford Sr., Adelaide Jeanette Elliott and the Mississippi State University's "Game of Change" with Loyola-Chicago. In 2018, the park began adding plaques annually to recognize Oktibbeha County civil rights activists. The 2020 honorees were Dorothy Bishop, the first female president of the Oktibbeha County NAACP, and Carole McReynolds Davis, an artist and a member of the first local race relations team in the 1990s. Both died in 2014, when Bishop was 71 and Davis was 72. Unity Park is even more significant to the community in light of the reignited national conversation about racial justice this year, said Jeanne Marszalek, chair of the Unity Park Advisory Committee. She called the park "a symbol of what can be done" to advance racial justice locally and nationally.
 
Starkville-based artist infuses years of passion into state flag finalist design
Rocky Vaughan waited at his wife's hospital bed for days as the couple expected the birth of their second son, Brody, in March 2013. To kill some time, Vaughan brought his sketchbook. As he doodled purposelessly, he thought of the debate he had seen on TV surrounding the then-Mississippi state flag, which boasted the Confederate battle emblem in its canton. "It's just an ugly topic. ... I don't want to seem like an advocate for each side," he said. "But I am a designer. So I can let everybody see, you can have a pretty flag, you don't have to be so upset about (it)." Intrigued, he began sketching a magnolia as he waited. That process, he said, would sometimes annoy his wife. "Me sitting in the corner would get on her nerves, so she sent me home a few times," he said with a chuckle. "Apparently, my sketching is a little too noisy." Since his first try at redesigning the state flag seven years ago, Vaughan -- a 43-year-old Ackerman native and graphic designer at DogPound Printing in Starkville -- said he has produced more than 100 different designs. And now, he is closer than ever to making history. Vaughan is a co-designer of "The New Magnolia Flag" -- one of the two finalists that could become the state's new flag -- after the Mississippi Legislature retired the old one on June 30.
 
5 Mississippi legends to be formally inducted in Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience Hall of Fame
A formal induction ceremony for the third group of honorees for The Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience (The MAX) Hall of Fame will take place Thursday, Sept. 3 in downtown Meridian. Five iconic Mississippians will be inducted during the festivities, which are open only to the honorees' family and invited guests. The inductees are: country music singer and songwriter Tammy Wynette; singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer Bo Diddley; singer-songwriter, musician and pianist Jerry Lee Lewis; poet and author Margaret Walker Alexander; and blues singer, songwriter and guitarist John Lee Hooker. According to Jerome Trahan, director of marketing at The MAX, the induction ceremony for the 2019 Hall of Fame honorees was delayed due to the pandemic. "The selection of these five individuals who have enriched our culture through their talents as performers as well as writers was announced last summer," Trahan noted. "There were plans to recognize them at a later day, however, this had to rescheduled." The induction ceremony will be held at the MSU Riley Center, where awards will be presented to the honorees' family members.
 
Mississippi Aquarium brings generations for an opening day experience
The grand opening of the Mississippi Aquarium, delayed by the coronavirus, dodged two hurricanes this week, was held Saturday on the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Gov. Tate Reeves opened the doors at 10 a.m., and young and old scattered for a first look around. Some explored outdoors, spotting turtles in The River and standing still inside The Aviary as colorful birds flew around them. Others ducked inside to discover The Tunnel, where fish swam all around them, and then found more surprises around every turn. Reeves, who said he will bring his family to tour the new attraction, rounded the corner and was awed by The Wall of marine life, said Kurt Allen, president and CEO of Mississippi Aquarium. The aquarium will take Mississippi and tourism to the next level, Reeves said, and will be a great learning experience for the state's 450,000 school children. Reeves said the significance of opening on the Katrina anniversary brought back then Gov. Haley Barbour's comment a few weeks after the storm that if the Coast builds back the same the recovery would be a failure. "To me the beauty of the Mississippi Aquarium is an example of building of something special and making it even better," Reeves said.
 
Institute for Marine Mammals Studies has its own niche in showcasing Gulf marine life
With the opening of the Mississippi Aquarium this weekend, the Coast has two tourist attractions that showcase Gulf marine life. The other: Ocean Adventures Marine Park as part of the Institute for Marine Mammals Studies. The big question: can they coexist? IMMS Executive Director Moby Solangi, said there is a lot that separates the two. "We have a very interactive facility," said Solangi. "We have dolphins. You can swim with the dolphins; swim with the stingrays and sharks; get kisses from the sea lions; feed the birds. So, we make learning fun. I think it is very different from what the aquarium is offering." He said what's most important is the work done behind the staged events. "We have a very, very strong conservation and research program," said Solangi. "We rehabilitate animals. We have a very strong relationship with the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State. So, those programs combined with making learning fun, I think will guarantee our success."
 
Mississippi reports 274 new COVID-19 cases, 32 deaths
The Mississippi State Department of Health on Monday reported 274 new COVID-19 cases and 32 additional deaths. Itawamba, Lafayette, Pontotoc, Prentiss and Tishomingo counties each reported an additional death. Chickasaw, Lee and Union counties each reported two new deaths. The statewide total of COVID-19 cases since March 11 now stands at 82,950 with 2,473 deaths as a result of the virus. Around 62,707 people are estimated to have recovered from the virus as of August 23. Nearly all counties in the Daily Journal's coverage area reported additional cases. Benton County reported one less case, going from 194 cases to 193. County case numbers and deaths may change as investigation finds new or additional information, according to the MSDH website. The additional case counts are: Alcorn (6), Chickasaw (8), Clay (1), Itawamba (2), Lafayette (17), Lee (15), Marshall (5), Monroe (2), Oktibbeha (13), Pontotoc (1), Prentiss (9), Tippah (3), Tishomingo (5) and Union (3).
 
Analysis: Push to revise parole survives despite gov's veto
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves killed a bill but not an idea when he vetoed the Mississippi Correctional Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2020, which would have made more inmates eligible for the possibility of parole. Advocates for criminal justice changes are still saying Mississippi needs to ease the moral and financial burden of a prison system that is the subject of multiple lawsuits over safety and sanitation and that is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department. The push for change is coming from groups across the political spectrum, including the liberal Poor People's Campaign and the libertarian Mississippi Center for Public Policy. Mississippi has one of the highest incarceration rates in the U.S., and the Justice Department announced its investigation in February, weeks after outbursts of violence led to the death and injury of several inmates. More than 70 inmates have died in Mississippi prisons since late December.
 
After victories, Medicaid expansion revisited in Mississippi
After voters expanded Medicaid in conservative states like Missouri and Oklahoma, health care advocates are renewing a push for expansion in Mississippi and other Southern states where Republican leaders have long been opposed. They say the changing tide has followed rising income inequality, joblessness and pressure from hospitals in economic turmoil -- issues exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The Mississippi Hospital Association in 2019 proposed "Mississippi Cares," which it called Medicaid reform but not expansion. It was modeled after an Indiana program enacted under then-Gov. Mike Pence. It would expand Medicaid eligibility while setting $20 monthly premium payments and copays. The proposal gained no traction during this year's Mississippi legislative session. While advocates for Medicaid expansion say they are hopeful, they acknowledge difficulties.
 
President Trump focuses on law and order, but will other Republicans follow?
As protests against racism and police brutality continue to rock the country, President Donald Trump made preserving "law and order" central to his reelection campaign at this week's Republican convention, arguing that a Joe Biden presidency will result in socialism and anarchy. "The most dangerous aspect of the Biden platform is the attack on public safety," Trump said as he accepted the GOP nomination for president at the White House Thursday night. "No one will be safe in Biden's America," Trump later added. That message has slowly started to pop up in House and Senate races, as Republicans look to hold onto their Senate majority and flip the House by winning districts Trump carried four years ago. Even though the coronavirus and the economy have continued to dominate voters' concerns in internal polling, some Republicans expect candidates to further embrace Trump's "law and order" message as protests and violence continue.
 
Many Americans are buying into baseless theories around COVID-19, poll shows
A number of Americans have voiced a level of acceptance for baseless theories surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, including the novel coronavirus' origins and impact on mail-voting, a new Hill-HarrisX poll finds. The poll found that while many Americans dismiss unproven or debunked theories that have emerged this year, others continue to believe them or have shown a level of acceptance for certain misinformation. The survey conducted earlier this month also asked voters how likely they are to believe that "vaccines for COVID-19 will be used to implant tracking chips in Americans," another baseless theory that has spread on social media this year. More than a quarter of voters in the poll, 27 percent, said they thought the statement might be true, while 73 percent said it was likely false. Other questions focused on conspiracy theories and misinformation surrounding the 2020 election. Just over half of respondents, 51 percent, said they thought it was at least somewhat likely that "expanded voting by mail will be used to commit massive voter fraud," a claim often floated by President Trump despite evidence. Forty-nine percent of voters said the claim was likely false.
 
How QAnon and other dark forces are radicalizing Americans as the COVID-19 pandemic rages and election looms
The emergence of QAnon – which has promoted and capitalized on Donald Trump's presidency, and received attention from him – comes at a volatile moment due to a raging pandemic and an imminent election. The movement, which holds Trump on a pedestal as a hero in a fight they portray as being against evil liberals and the media, is rallying support for the president in his campaign against former Vice President Joe Biden, even though it doesn't always follow the traditional contours of Republican-Democratic politics. Experts who study extremism say the radicalized patchwork of fringe conspiracy theories has gained currency due in part to its promise of easy answers to complex problems, such as COVID-19 and racial tensions, and the sense of community it creates at a time when many people feel terribly alone. While the far-right movement's most devoted followers have been active on extremist online platforms like 4chan and 8kun, the spread of their conspiracy theories and political opinions into mainstream social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube is accelerating during the pandemic, with everyday Americans increasingly encountering and embracing bits and pieces of the radicalized ideology.
 
The W's CPDC selected as model for early childhood inclusion
Mississippi University for Women's Child and Parent Development Center (CPDC) was awarded the Mississippi Early Childhood Inclusion Center's (MECIC) award as the Endorsed Center of the Year for 2020. "We love to see progress when all children are given the right environment to learn and grow," said Penny Sansing Mansell, CPDC director. "When you make classroom adjustments to benefit children with special needs or abilities, the entire school benefits and blossoms." Each year one licensed Mississippi Early Childhood Center receives the MECIC award for dedicating work building an inclusive environment to support children and families with special needs. In addition to the award, CPDC also received $1000 in social-emotional, developmental, inclusive materials and manipulatives to use in classrooms. A MECIC endorsed center models high-quality inclusion in its community providing access, participation and support to the children and families they serve.
 
U. of Southern Mississippi to change name of iconic 'Dixie Darlings' dance team
The University of Southern Mississippi's premier dance team plans to retire the name Dixie Darlings and the song they strut onto the field with, "Are You From Dixie," after this football season. Leadership of USM's marching band The Pride of Mississippi, which include the Dixie Darlings, stated Aug. 6 that it would begin the process of selecting a new name. The statement said the name change and song change will "continue our ongoing commitment to maintaining a positive and safe environment for the students of The Pride of Mississippi." "It has become increasingly difficult for our students to focus on our core values of excellence and our faculty's ability to provide a positive and safe environment," The Pride of Mississippi leadership said in a statement. "It is through listening and learning that the leadership of The Pride of Mississippi and all of its component performing units have decided to begin a process, to include current and former members of the team, of a name change."
 
Jackson State becomes first HBCU to earn NSCS Diamond Star award
Jackson State University's chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars has earned this year's national Diamond Star award, becoming the first HBCU in history to earn the distinction, it was announced Wednesday. According to a news release, JSU was the only chapter to receive the honor, which is awarded to the top-performing chapters in the county, in 2020. Scott Mobley, executive director of the NSCS, said the university's chapter is "among the best of the best nationwide." "(JSU chapter members) went above and beyond with implementing engaging, student-centered events on their campus and in their local community, including a new member induction ceremony, Integrity Week and PACE (Planning to Achieve Collegiate Success)," he said in a statement. "The entire community should take pride in the chapter's accomplishments. Their exceptional work is not only a credit to them as a chapter, but as students at Jackson State University."
 
Community Hero: William McHenry encourages minorities, women to purse STEM careers
Today's science students are tomorrow's problem solvers, and a Jackson educator has dedicated his 45-year career to mentoring and recruiting women and minorities into the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Along the way, he has secured more than $60 million in grants to promote STEM careers. Because of his work, the Clarion Ledger is recognizing William McHenry, executive director of Jackson State University's Mississippi e-Center, as its 10th "Community Hero." "Jackson State University appreciates the continuous impact Dr. McHenry has made in the field of STEM education through mentorship," Thomas K. Hudson, J.D., acting president of JSU, said in a news release about McHenry's national recognition. "Throughout his career, he has worked tirelessly to expand opportunities for students in Mississippi and beyond."
 
'This is just insane': Students say U. of Alabama doing too little to protect them from COVID-19
As the number of COVID-19 infections exploded at the University of Alabama over the past week, the school's administrators took several steps aimed at slowing the spread. The university consolidated student housing to clear room to quarantine students, banned student events and encouraged compliance with preventative measures. But many students worry it was too little, too late. And some students say UA has not done enough to protect them from contracting the virus. Lila Bogle, a 19-year-old UA sophomore from Franklin, Tenn., was sitting in a cavernous lecture hall with dozens of other students for her statistics class last week when a student behind her sneezed. When Bogle turned around to say bless you, the student's mask had been pulled down. Bogle asked her why her mask was not covering her nose and mouth in accordance with university policy. "She was like, 'I only pulled down my mask to sneeze, it's not that big of a deal,'" Bogle recalled. "But it is that big of a deal! I couldn't believe that she said that because what do you think you're wearing a mask for?" Bogle, who lives in an on-campus residence hall that the university has not converted to isolation space, said that kind of dismissive attitude toward basic preventative measures is common among some UA students.
 
U. of Alabama records 481 new COVID-19 cases in three days
The University of Alabama recorded 481 new cases of COVID-19 among its campus community between Aug. 25 and Aug. 27, according to newly released data. The Friday data marks a total of 1,043 cumulative cases among faculty, staff and students since Aug. 19. UA recorded 158 cases among employees and students before Aug. 19. The cases were separate from the school's re-entry testing program, which required students to take a COVID-19 test before fall semester. But the tests were administered prior to students returning to campus, and cases appeared to have quickly spiked as residents moved on campus and Greek houses held pre-semester events. The new cases are a small percentage of the estimated 35,100 students, faculty and staff that make up UA's campus. But university and city officials this week expressed concern about the school's quarantine dorm capacity in addition to the increased strain a rapid surge in cases would place on the city's health care infrastructure.
 
Auburn's University Program Council looks to have full schedule of events for fall
Despite social-distancing guidelines and other coronavirus-related restrictions, Auburn's University Program Council is still aiming to welcome students back with a full fall event schedule. Although the events that are put on may be slightly altered for health and safety concerns, Luke Heslep, UPC's vice president of marketing, said that the council "has gone above and beyond in developing creative ways to continue to operate at a normal capacity, while keeping everyone at events safe and well-informed." The events that have been planned are a mix of virtual and in-person events. The in-person events will have all the necessary precautions taken in order to safeguard the health and safety of those attending, Heslep said, while allowing them to interact with each other. In the circumstance that Auburn transitions to all online classes, Heslep said that UPC will be ready. "We have asked all of our directors to think critically about what another semester online with UPC will look like," he said.
 
University COVID-19 dashboards offer varied information
The COVID-19 dashboard at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill includes information about daily new positive cases, weekly cases, the number of positive cases in each residence hall and occupancy of isolation and quarantine rooms. The bare bones COVID-19 dashboard at the University of Missouri lists the number of active cases and the number of recovered cases among student. MU isn't done with its dashboard, said spokesman Christian Basi. As an example, there was an unscheduled update on Friday after an update on Wednesday. It was initially planned as a weekly release on Wednesdays. And on Friday, UM System President Mun Choi said new information would be added starting Monday that shows the number of coronavirus infections among faculty and staff at the university. More frequent updates are possible, Basi said. Monday was the first day of classes at MU. That day, the dashboard reported 168 positive COVID-19 cases among students. By the end of the week, the number had increased by 123 percent to 376.
 
M.B.A.s Are Usually Swimming in Job Offers by Now. Not This Year.
Business school students are bracing for an uncertain job market this coming school year as many traditional corporate recruiters shelve their usual fall hiring plans. At a time of year when many business school students are polishing their networking skills and getting their business haircuts, a number of big companies, including consulting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers, say there will be no jobs on offer to second-year M.B.A. candidates looking to lock down a position before they graduate in 2021. The murky job market has both students and schools worried. M.B.A. students can pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend some of the top programs for the promise of an accelerated career and higher salary. Schools market strong job-placement rates to prospective students; those rates ranged between 80% to 90% for many highly ranked programs before the pandemic hit. Kevin Stacia, an M.B.A. career coach and corporate-relations manager at Georgia Tech's Scheller College of Business, said students and employers are stuck in limbo for now. "Nobody is making commitments yet," he said.
 
Looking to Reopen, Colleges Become Labs for Coronavirus Tests and Tracking Apps
The fall of 2020 will go down as a period of profound experimentation at colleges and universities transformed into hothouse laboratories. They are trying out wastewater tests, dozens of health-check apps and versions of homegrown contact technologies that log student movement and exposure risk. And they are experimenting with different testing methods that might yield faster results and be easier to administer, such as using saliva instead of nasal swabs. Like small island nations with discrete populations, many universities are using methods that cities, states and nations often cannot. The colleges have some authority over relatively captive communities, which are made up of students largely at ease with new technology. Plus, the schools have profound motivation: Their very economic survival depends on people coming to campus safely. College officials are also hoping that students will be motivated to make it work.
 
Colleges With Covid Outbreaks Advised to Keep Students on Campus
A consensus is building among public health experts that it's better to keep university students on campus after a Covid-19 outbreak rather than send them home as many are doing. It's easier to isolate sick or exposed students and trace their contacts if they stay put, said Ravina Kullar, epidemiologist and spokesperson for Infectious Diseases Society of America. Sending students home risks exposing other people there as well as along the way, and makes contact tracing all but impossible. "There's just inevitably going to be an outbreak," she said. "Colleges need to take on the burden of having these students kept at their campus and taking care of them." For schools that send students home, contact tracing to help ensure they and their communities stay safe gets harder, especially for out-of-state students. f students live relatively nearby or are in-state, tracers can do their job, said Howard Koh, former assistant secretary for health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health professor. If students leave the state to go home, it's less effective.
 
Colleges want professors to stay mum on student COVID-19 cases
Numerous institutions are telling professors not to talk about when students in their face-to-face classes contract COVID-19, or saying that professors won't be notified when their students test positive, or both. In so doing, these institutions generally cite privacy laws. But professors say they're reading between the lines on that guidance, and they suspect that it's more about public relations than student privacy concerns. Some faculty members say they have no interest in sharing students' medical information but believe that they -- and their other students -- have a right to know if someone with whom they've shared classroom air is sick. They also say that discussing student health without naming names is covered by academic freedom, since it relates to how well or how poorly campuses are handling outbreaks. "We are very concerned. There's so much secrecy," said Michael Innis-Jiménez, professor of American studies at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, which has repeatedly warned professors not to talk about students testing positive with other students, with colleagues or on social media.
 
The Waiting Game: Inside one college town's fragile, high-stakes fall semester
On a Friday afternoon outside the student union at Appalachian State University, college students did what college students do. They loafed. They carried Frisbees to toss. They mostly ignored a maskless preacher shouting about sinners and salvation. It was August 21, the end of the first week of classes, and the atmosphere seemed almost normal. Almost. Signs implored people to wash hands, socially distance, and wear a mask. Most students on campus did so, though some weren't doing it quite right. A team of wellness ambassadors under a tent handed out university-branded face coverings and directed passersby to "pull your mask over your nose!" For the university's leaders, this had been the plan all along. The fall semester was afoot in the Blue Ridge Mountains, as it is in college towns across the country. If they're anything like Boone, the coming weeks may offer an object lesson in what it's like -- and what it costs -- to teach, learn, and live wondering what lurks around the corner.
 
College towns growing alarmed over outbreaks among students
As waves of schools and businesses around the country are cleared to reopen, college towns are moving toward renewed shutdowns because of too many parties and too many COVID-19 infections among students. With more than 300 students at the University of Missouri testing positive for the coronavirus and an alarming 44% positivity rate for Boone County, the local health director Friday ordered bars to stop serving alcohol at 9 p.m. and close by 10 p.m. Iowa's governor has ordered all bars shut down around The University of Iowa and Iowa State, while the mayor of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, did the same in the hometown of the state's flagship university. "What we're seeing in our violations is they're coming late at night," said Stephanie Browning, head of the health department for Columbia, Missouri. "Big groups gathering. They're not wearing their masks, they're not social distancing." The outbreaks since students began returning to campus in the past few weeks have heightened tensions between colleges and their towns and led to recriminations between local politicians and university officials.
 
Preventing College Parties? Shame And Blame Don't Work, But Beer Pong Outside Might
As the fall semester gets under way, college students are reuniting with their friends, getting (re)acquainted with campus and doing what college students often do: partying. But in the time of the coronavirus, as more parties surface university administrators have been quick to condemn -- and even berate -- the behavior of students. For many students, this scolding feels like a bait and switch: Didn't those university administrators, many of whom brought students back to campus knowing full well the challenges, share in some of that poor decision-making? Many college students still have developing brains, so it's not that they aren't informed or that they don't understand the risks -- it's that they're wired differently. Of course, not all students are partying. Many are following the rules, and encouraging others to do the same. "I'm not the only person that's frustrated," says Reagan Griffin Jr., a sophomore at the University of Southern California.
 
Colleges crack down on student behavior as virus threatens more closures
The biggest threat to universities' carefully drawn reopening plans? Their students. School leaders are dishing out suspensions, kicking students out of dorms and sanctioning Greek organizations over large gatherings during a budding semester that already has seen colleges close amid thousands of confirmed Covid-19 cases and dozens of deaths. In some cases students face the ultimate penalty of expulsion for disobeying mask rules while their schools set up tip lines and scour social media for any hint of parties or social distancing violations, both on and off campus. "I am deeply concerned with this sheer defiance to comply with the university's guidelines and expectations set forth and communicated to you before the fall semester," Florida State University President John Thrasher wrote Tuesday in a message to campus. The stakes are high. In addition to the public health risk, the virus' arrival this spring already has cost universities millions in refunds and lost revenue, and another round of campus shutdowns would send shock waves through already reeling communities.
 
Kamala Harris' AKA sorority sisters hoping to play a role in election
When Gayle Danley arrived on the campus of Howard University in the fall of 1983 from Atlanta's Mays High School, she knew she was bright enough. But she wasn't sure if she belonged. With about 10,000 students on its campus in Washington, D.C., Howard was one of the largest Black colleges in the country and one of the most elite. Everybody seemed to be a legacy, former class president, homecoming queen or high school valedictorian. It was a place where 400 women, including Danley, would vie for 30 spots to join a sorority. "There were moments in college where I felt awkward and ungainly. But there were certain people who embodied a certain savviness," Danley said. "Then there was Kamala. I would sit back and watch and stare at her because she was so womanly, confident and poised." Last month, Danley tearfully watched as Kamala Harris, her sorority sister in Alpha Kappa Alpha accepted the Democratic Party's nomination for vice president. As a member of the country's oldest Black sorority, an organization with a deep history of political and social activism, Harris brings to the campaign a built-in base of more than 300,000 college-educated women. Women adept at organizing. Women used to raising money. Women motivated by the fact that their "soror" is making history.
 
Some HBCUs bristle at being held up as sign of President Trump's concern for race
During a Republican National Convention that seemed in part intended to try to convince voters that President Trump is not a racist, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said that impression "could not be more wrong." And like the speaker after speaker who made that point last week, including First Lady Melania Trump, Carson said one piece of evidence of this was the president's support for historically Black colleges and universities. During a campaign, amid the racial tensions over police shootings of Black people, long-neglected HBCUs are getting attention on the campaign trail. But rather than rejoicing at the spotlight, critics, including some HBCU presidents, question how much credit Trump should receive for the funding for Black colleges in last year's FUTURE Act. Meanwhile, as HBCUs take an unusually visible place in this presidential campaign, including Democratic nominee Joe Biden's selection of Howard University graduate Kamala Harris as his running mate, Trump's supporters are also bringing up the Obama administration's own often contentious relationship with the colleges, and linking Obama's former vice president to it.
 
Russians use active measures to invade America
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming was a 1966 comedy about an accidental Russian invasion on the west coast. The Guatemalans are coming, the Guatemalans are coming was the comedic response when our president in 2018 projected an immigrant invasion on the Mexican border. Of the two it turns out the Russian invasion was no joke. "Active measures" to sow discord in the western democracies were institutionalized in the Soviet Union in 1961 when the KGB created its disinformation directorate. In 1967, Directorate D morphed into Service A with a defined political warfare mission. When he became premier in 1982, former KGB head Yuri Andropov greatly expanded the use of active measures to psychologically invade and disrupt democracies. ... With this growing proclivity among us to tear down rather than build up, how easy it is for Russian active measures to deceive and divide us. The Atlantic reported, "The Russians have learned much about American weaknesses, and how to exploit them."
 
How to deal with Cancel Culture
Columnist Phil Hardwick writes in the Mississippi Business Journal: On October 16, 1968, two American athletes who had just won gold and bronze medals in the Olympics each raised black-gloved fists as they stood on the medal stand during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner to draw attention to racial and social issues in the United States. In his autobiography, Silent Gesture, Tommie Smith, who had won the gold medal with a record-setting time in the 200-meter dash, stated that the gesture was not a "Black Power" salute per se, but rather a "human rights" salute. The reaction among the media, the sporting world, and the public was negative. Both men received hate mail and death threats. ... Thanks to social media and the media in general, we are living in emotionally charged times. Imagine what it would have been like in 1968. It's being called "cancel culture," which is generally defined as withdrawing support for public figures or companies after they have done something offensive. ... So what should a company do? First, realize that your business is not immune. These so-called cancellations can come from public protests, dissatisfied customers and even a company's own employees.
 
Legislative inaction on medical marijuana leaves voters with tough choice
Bobby Harrison writes for Mississippi Today: Approval of medical marijuana on Nov. 3 by Mississippi voters, based at least on polling, seems like a lead-pipe cinch. A poll conducted by Millsaps College and Mississippi-based Chism Strategies in 2019 placed support for legalizing medical marijuana at 67% to 27%. In today's polarized society, it's difficult to find that level of support for many issues. Yet some voters, who support the use of marijuana for medical purposes, might have second thoughts on approving the issue at the ballot box. There will be two medical marijuana proposals on the ballot this November: a citizen-sponsored initiative, and an alternative approved by legislators. ... If either of the proposals prevail on the Nov. 3 ballot, medical marijuana will be incorporated into the Mississippi Constitution. Never mind the legitimate argument that the Constitution should address major issues, such as our rights and freedoms, and instead focus on the fact that once something gets in the Constitution it is difficult to change or remove.


SPORTS
 
Mike Leach: Mississippi State depth chart not set after Week 2 of practice
Mississippi State is making progress. The Bulldogs, like every other college football program in the country, were not privy to a spring practice schedule. The stoppage due to the COVID-19 pandemic hurt some more than others. Place MSU in the category of most affected. Not every team underwent nearly a complete overhaul of the coaching staff during the offseason. Save for associate head coach Tony Hughes, MSU did. New coaches mean new schemes. No spring schedule means less time to implement them. But coach Mike Leach and his assistants have done their best. "I think we've got it installed, now we just have to polish it up, execute it and be more automatic," Leach said Saturday. "That's still a work in progress. I guess it's continually a work in progress. I occasionally get the, 'Are you satisfied?' No. You're never satisfied. This isn't a satisfied business." Leach said, though, the installation of the Air Raid has been similar to other places where he implemented the system.
 
Why Mike Leach said football provides 'the very best platform' to fight social injustice
Mike Leach believes a lot of good can come on a football field. Take, for instance, an example from when Leach was 9. The date was Sept. 12, 1970. No. 3 Southern California traveled to Birmingham to take on No. 16 Alabama. Leach remembers the game well. A lot of good came from what happened at Legion Field that day. Sam "Bam" Cunningham made up one-third of an all-Black Trojans' backfield. The Crimson Tide, led by Hall of Fame coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, fielded an all-white roster. USC won, 42-21, on the back of Cunningham's 12 carries for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Black players saw playing time at Alabama for the first time ever the following season. They helped the Tide to an undefeated season in SEC play. So while Mississippi State players boycotted Thursday's practice to protest social injustice and police brutality, Leach was happy to see them back on the field Saturday for a normally scheduled session. "I think players need to recognize what a great platform they have when they play," Leach said. "They're examples and just like them and the guys ahead of them, young people and fans all admire them and respect them. I think the very best platform is playing and seeing all different people pulling together from all different walks of life and pulling for one another."
 
Mississippi State's Andra Espinoza-Hunter opts out of basketball season
Mississippi State women's basketball player Andra Ezpinoza-Hunter announced Sunday she would opt out of the 2020-21 season because of COVID-19 concerns. Ezpinoza-Hunter, a 5-foot-11 senior guard, announced her decision via Twitter. "After considerable thought and long discussions with my family, I have decided it is in my best interest to opt out of the upcoming women's basketball season due to COVID-19 concerns," Espinoza-Hunter tweeted. Espinoza-Hunter would have been one of two seniors on the roster. Center Yemiyah Morris is the only one left. "To my lifelong teammates, who are my lifelong friends and will forever have a special place in my heart, I am going to miss playing with you all this season, but I'll be cheering you on as you chase your dream of bringing Mississippi State its first National Championship!" Espinoza-Hunter said in her tweet.
 
Padres trade for Amory's Mitch Moreland
Mitch Moreland is on the move. The veteran major leaguer from Amory was traded on Sunday morning from Boston to San Diego. A career .253 hitter in 11 big-league seasons, the former Mississippi State standout is having a terrific season at the plate, hitting .328 with eight home runs. He turns 35 next Sunday. "Being able to add his makeup, character, that will blend in really well into this clubhouse," Padres manager Jayce Tingler said Sunday. "There's a positive buzz, energy going around." For the Padres, Moreland is most likely to see most of his time at designated hitter – National League teams are using the DH in this pandemic summer, and San Diego has already tried nine different players there with underwhelming results. San Diego is chasing its first playoff appearance in 14 seasons. On Saturday, the team bolstered its bullpen by acquiring a resurgent Trevor Rosenthal in a trade with the Kansas City Royals. Originally a 17th-round pick by Texas in 2007, Moreland has been on teams that have made the playoffs in seven of the last 10 seasons, including the World Series champion Red Sox in 2018. He has 174 home runs and 491 RBIs in 1,159 big-league games.
 
MUW postpones fall sports competition
Mississippi University for Women announced Friday that it has postponed all competition for fall sports during the 2020-21 school year because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Men's and women's cross country, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's golf, men's and women's soccer and volleyball are affected by the decision. "Make no mistake, elite health and safety standards have always been and will continue to be a driving force in our athletic program," a news release from the school stated. "However, this current world-wide pandemic has stretched the boundaries of intercollegiate sports from a wellbeing standpoint to the limit, with no clear end or answer in sight." MUW said a recommendation from the NCAA Division III Administrative Committee that schools halt athletic competition for the fall semester was a key factor in the Owls' decision. The Owls' sports teams will be able to keep practicing and training during the fall semester.
 
SEC: No band performances before games, during halftime
The reduced crowds that attend SEC games this fall should not expect the typical pageantry that accompanies major college football. The SEC announced Friday that school bands will be restricted from performing on field before games and during halftime. The league added, "The policy will be revised during the year based on developments around COVID-19." The SEC also said visiting bands would be prohibited from attending games at other SEC stadiums if their fan capacity was limited. Whether bands travel to neutral-site games remains up to individual schools. The restrictions on bands were some of several guidelines the conference released as the start of its season Sept. 26 begins to come into focus. The conference said press boxes will be kept at 50 percent capacity, post-game news conferences will be conducted virtually and access to sidelines will be restricted. The SEC also told schools that they must provide a minimum of 500 lower-bowl tickets to the visiting school, even given reduced capacities in venues.
 
Alabama football players, coaches to march on Monday in protest of racial inequality
Alabama football players and coaches plan to march from the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility to Foster Auditorium Monday afternoon. Alabama wide receiver John Metchie was the first of many to publicize the march on Instagram, and running back Najee Harris publicized the logistical details on Twitter. Earlier in the summer, UA football posted a message on racial inequality written by offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood, which ended with five players repeating, "Because all lives can't matter until Black lives matter." Foster Auditorium is where, on June 11, 1963, then-Governor George Wallace stood in the door attempting to prevent two Black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from enrolling at UA. Foster Auditorium has since been renovated into an athletic facility and currently hosts the UA volleyball team.
 
LSU football players march through campus for racial justice: 'We need to do something'
Players on the LSU football team began organizing a march through campus around noon Friday, trying to hold conversations with LSU leadership about racism and social injustice in America. They wanted their voices heard. Led by senior safety JaCoby Stevens and senior defensive end Andre Anthony, the players felt inspired by professional athletes whose strikes postponed NBA playoff games and regular season contests in multiple sports after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during an arrest earlier this week. "We need to do something," Stevens said. The players gathered at 1 p.m. outside the western entrance to Tiger Stadium as rain swept through Baton Rouge. Many wore black shorts and rain jackets along with face masks. Coach Ed Orgeron sent assistant coaches to talk to the team. At 1:30 p.m., the players posed for a picture. They all held one fist in the air.
 
Texas A&M football cancels Friday practice to participate in march through campus
The Texas A&M football team canceled practice Friday, so players could participate in a multi-team march through campus as a demonstration against racial injustices that have occurred in the United States. The march began at approximately 7:30 p.m. when warmups were scheduled to take place for the football team's seventh practice of fall camp. The practice was canceled after a Friday afternoon team meeting, which was a discussion on racial injustices. The break in practice was a chance to pause and reflect, according to a statement from the athletics department. Student-athletes from A&M's volleyball, basketball, soccer and track and field teams, among others, joined the football players. They walked quietly from the Bright Football Complex to the Lawrence Sullivan Ross statue a few blocks away. Once there, the group of about 100 masked athletes, coaches and athletics department administrators formed a circle with discussions led by senior wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon, senior quarterback Kellen Mond, linebacker senior Keith Magee and head football coach Jimbo Fisher. The demonstration followed suit with other programs around the country, including Baylor, Oklahoma, Duke, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
 
Gators, Dan Mullen march in protest of racial injustice
Usually one of the last things a football coach wants to see is his team's first preseason scrimmage getting delayed. But in this case, Dan Mullen was OK with it. Actually, he was more than OK. He was all in. When some University of Florida athletes from different sports decided to get together and hold an impromptu march from campus to downtown early Friday evening to protest racial injustice, Mullen and most of the Gator football players joined in, putting their scheduled scrimmage on hold until later that night. "I'm supportive of our guys," Mullen said Saturday. "You hear me talk about education. That's a challenge for everybody. Try to educate yourself in what goes on in the world and try to educate yourself about other people. I can't put myself in someone else's shoes, but I certainly can try to understand and respect where they come from. The players, Mullen and the other athletes from other sports marched downtown, where basketball player Scottie Lewis got up and said a few words. The march then headed back to campus, where the Gators eventually launched their considerably delayed scrimmage.
 
March on UT Knoxville: Vols athletes lead anti-racism demonstration on campus
Trey Smith is tired. "I'm tired of being scared in my car, seeing a police officer, worrying about seeing a cop in public, having to look over my shoulder. I'm tired of worrying about my cousins, my brothers, my sisters, my aunts, my uncles, my father. I'm tired of seeing Black mothers cry over their dead children," Tennessee's star offensive lineman told a massive crowd of mask-wearing demonstrators on the University of Tennessee's Knoxville campus Saturday. "I'm tired of hearing racist comments, racist jokes. I'm tired of being told by people not of color that, 'Hey man, watch out for this guy, he might be a little racist, man,' but then it's OK when he finds out I'm a football player." Smith was one of several Black student-athletes who led an outdoors anti-racism demonstration dubbed the March on UT Knoxville. University of Tennessee athletes from nearly every sport gathered around noon Saturday at the Torchbearer Statue at Circle Park, then marched peacefully in a crowd of more than a thousand people.
 
MU athletes' March with Mizzou to demonstrate against social injustices
A group of Missouri athletes has organized March with Mizzou, inviting people to join them in a demonstration to shine light on social injustices. The march will take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday, from the Missouri Athletics Training Complex to the MU Columns. As Missourian Tiger Kickoff editor Christina Long reported in a tweet late Sunday night, track and field athletes Olivia Evans, Atina Kamasi and Cason Suggs and MU defensive lineman Kobie Whiteside are leading the planning of the march in conjunction with the Black Student Athlete Association and the newly formed Female Athlete Minorities at Mizzou. The march comes on the heels of the Missouri football team canceling practice Friday to "focus on the current state of our country," according to a team statement. "We desire to use our platform as college student-athletes to shed light on the injustices that are plaguing our country, and to help promote CHANGE!" the statement said. "We refuse to ignore racism and police brutality."
 
John Calipari defends Keion Brooks' comments about Rupp Arena name change
The University of Kentucky has seen several of its most prominent student-athletes speak out during a historic few days in American sports and Keion Brooks Jr. was one of the people who unfairly received the most criticism. On Friday, after Brooks Jr. recently told the media during a virtual press conference that he would be in favor of changing the name of Rupp Arena, his head coach, John Calipari, came to his player's defense, saying that his opinion should be shown the respect he has earned and deserves. Calipari states that he plans on setting up a Zoom call with his team and some former players so they can more accurately flesh out the truths of the situation. Recently, Calipari has been extra active with helping educate his team, teaching them the importance of voting and, in the process, registering his entire team to vote. In a statement sent to ESPN, the UK African American and Africana Studies Program, the same department that initially sparked the rally for a potential name change to Rupp Arena, commended Brooks for his thoughts and called upon Calipari to discuss the issue further with his team.
 
He's been to 253 UGA football games in a row. How this superfan plans to keep the streak alive
Many Georgia fans are looking ahead to the Bulldogs' season opener on Sept. 26 at Arkansas with varying degrees of apprehension, but it's likely that Watkinsville resident Frank Pittman has the market cornered in the angst department. The novel coronavirus pandemic has changed college football for everybody involved, and while SEC schools are planning to once again take the fight to the field this fall, thousands of fans are going to be shut out from seeing their favorite teams in person. Georgia plans to reduce capacity -- by as much as 75 percent -- in 93,000-seat Sanford Stadium this season that at the most would allow some 23,000 fans to attend. And with the exception of the Nov. 7 game against Florida in Jacksonville, no tickets will be made available for road games. "I'm a little anxious, yes," said Pittman, who has not missed a Georgia football game since the 2000 Oahu Bowl, a streak of 253 games. "The plan is to keep going if I can go. If I can get my hands on tickets, I'll be there. It's going to be difficult but that will make it even better if I can pull it off."
 
John Thompson, coach who built Georgetown basketball into national power, dies at 78
John Thompson, the Washington native who elevated Georgetown University basketball to national prominence, earned Hall of Fame honors and carved a place in history as the first African American coach to lead his team to the NCAA championship, has died at 78. His family announced the death in a statement but did not provide additional details. Physically imposing at 6-foot-10 and nearly 300 pounds and possessed of a booming bass voice that commanded authority better than a shrill whistle could, Mr. Thompson built his teams around similarly intimidating centers such as Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning and a physical, unrelenting approach to defense. His most profound contribution to the game was his grasp of its power to lift disadvantaged youngsters to a better life. He used college basketball -- and his stature in the sport -- as a platform from which to demand greater opportunities for Black athletes to gain the college education they might otherwise have been denied. To Mr. Thompson, a basketball scholarship was a vehicle rather than a destination.



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