Wednesday, September 30, 2020   
Mississippi State's win over LSU produces boost in merchandise sales
By about 6:30 Saturday evening, what had been low expectations for Mississippi State were suddenly soaring. And we're not just talking about what happened on the field, where Mississippi State had just finished off a stunning 44-34 victory over sixth-ranked and defending national champion LSU on its own field in Mike Leach's MSU coaching debut. "I'd definitely say that Mike Leach has saved football and these local businesses, too," said Alex Gomez as he assessed over-the-weekend sales for Maroon & Co., which specializes in MSU-themed merchandise. "We get notifications on our phones when someone is buying something online," said Gomez, a manager at the store. "As soon as the game was over, it was ca-ching, ca-ching, ca-ching. I think we did roughly 5,000 to 6,000 sales that night alone, way more than double what we normally get after a game." With COVID-19 casting a shadow over the season -- finally resulting in a 10-game schedule featuring five home games, all limited to 25 percent capacity -- Starkville businesses that cater to Saturday football crowds had prepared for a significant drop in sales at area shops, restaurants and hotels. And while MSU's conquest over LSU may not help the hotel or restaurant business significantly, it has sent MSU merchandise flying off the shelves, with retailers now struggling to fill online orders as well.
Student-founded tech startup makes history at Venture Atlanta
Some students from Mississippi State University started a technology company that's making history and growing during the pandemic. Shelby Baldwin, Calvin Waddy and Brandon Johns the founders of Rocketing Systems, Inc. It's based in Starkville and it's a software development company that's behind the influencer marketing automation product, Buzzbassador. Rocketing Systems develops Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions for the intersection of e-commerce and marketing. Their flagship product, Buzzbassador, is a CRM-like platform that automates the back-office tasks of running brand ambassador marketing campaigns. The application is available on Shopify and has over 1,000 merchants worldwide. Their company made history by being selected to participate in Venture Atlanta -- the Southeast's largest venture capital and tech conference. Baldwin said it's the first Mississippi company to be selected in the conference's 14 years. They're also the youngest team to present at the annual conference.
MSU Extension Service offers online training to help address mental health
Mississippi State University Extension Service is now offering a skills-based, online training program: Adult Mental Health First Aid. This curriculum teaches participants how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental health disorders and crises in their communities. According to the school, courses begin with a two-hour, self-paced online course, followed by an interactive virtual instructor-led session. Three opportunities will be offered for the interactive sessions: Nov. 3 from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Nov. 12 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., or Dec. 9 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Participation is only necessary for one of these sessions. Topics will include anxiety, depression, eating disorders, psychosis, substance use disorders, and suicidal ideations and behaviors. The training costs $24 per participant but is free of charge for Mississippi residents. It is for anyone age 18 or older who wishes to participate.
Beef grading Prime reaches record levels
The percentage of steer and heifer carcasses grading Prime so far in 2020 has outpaced normal levels, according to Josh Maples, assistant professor and extension economist at Mississippi State University. The average percentage of carcasses grading Prime during the first seven months of 2020 was 10.6%, which he noted is the highest January-to-July average on record. It is also about 2% higher than the first seven months of 2019. Maples relayed that dressed weights have also been higher during 2020. Average steer and heifer dressed weights were 899 lb. and 829 lb., respectively, during the first eight months of 2020. For steers, that was a 32 lb. increase over the same period in 2019, while it was a 25.5 lb. increase for heifers. "Cattle dressed weights are usually seasonally lowest during late spring and then peak in late fall. In 2020, the seasonal decline in the spring did not materialize due to the processing disruptions [caused by the COVID-19 pandemic] forcing cattle to stay on feed longer," Maples said. Even before the 2020 disruptions, the percentage of cattle grading Prime was steadily increasing, he said.
Mississippians push to engage voters ahead of Oct. 5 registration deadline
With the Oct. 5 voter registration deadline days away, communities across the state are finding ways to engage prospective and current voters. Voter registration drives are usually successful, said Thessalia Merivaki, assistant professor in American politics at Mississippi State University. Incorrect information on registration forms and voters unaware of their rights and options can hinder the process, she said. This can be resolved through outreach and education. This is why voter education is essential to the process. If it is not done, especially for the high school and college electorate, it exacerbates inequities in access to information, Merivaki added. For example, if a student comes from a household that is less likely to vote, it is likely the student won't cast a ballot as opposed to a student in a civically active household, she said. "This is another population that we know very little about, and it's very hard to reach," Merivaki said. "If we track this path towards college, that's how we can explain why there's so many students who are very unfamiliar with the process. The first time voters start college and they're overwhelmed."
Lawmakers to return Thursday to discuss whether to shift federal coronavirus funds
The Mississippi Legislature will reconvene at 10 a.m. Thursday and is expected to remain in session Friday for what will be the last two days of the 2020 session, unless lawmakers opt to again extend the session. Legislative sources, including House Pro-Tem Jason White, confirmed that lawmakers will reconvene Thursday to deal with funding issues related to the $1.25 billion the state received earlier this year in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds. Federal law mandates that the CARES Act funds be spent by the end of the year. Earlier this year, the Legislature earmarked those funds in a number of areas, including grants to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19, expanding internet access and providing aid to health care providers. One of the primary reasons the Legislature is returning, House Speaker Philip Gunn and other legislative leaders said in recent weeks, is to determine what funds have been spent and whether some of the funds might need to re-allocated to other programs. Gunn said he expects the Legislature to keep things "focused, very narrow."
As Legislature returns Thursday, Senator Scott DeLano offers insight on potential agenda
The Mississippi Legislature will return to the Capitol on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. State Senator Scott DeLano sat down with Y'all Politics to discuss what members anticipate will be on the agenda. Senator DeLano said that the Legislature plans to wrap everything up by Friday for Sine Die of the 2020 session. "We've got about three or four bills that we're going to need to handle, to take care of the last minute CARES Act numbers we're going to be working with and the dollars that are left over from the bills that we passed a couple of months ago," said DeLano. He said while the Legislature did its best to get the money where it needed to go throughout the state, out of the $1.25 billion the state had to spend some money has not yet been spent. DeLano said those funds will be plugged into the areas needed with a portion going to the employment security trust fund. Federal regulations require that CARES Act dollars be spent before the end of 2020. Because session was extended this year, lawmakers are able to come back in to redistribute any funds that have not yet been spent before that deadline. However, DeLano said he doesn't expect this style of session to continue into 2021.
Public service commissioners request federal audit of internet provided by AT&T
The state of Mississippi on Tuesday questioned whether AT&T has adequately followed through on a federally funded initiative to make internet service available to residents as officials asked the U.S. government to perform an audit into the matter. In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, Mississippi's three public service commissioners said records recently provided by the telecommunications conglomerate through a subpoena have led "to great concern surrounding the validity of AT&T Mississippi's claims and the honesty of data submitted by them." "Our investigation has revealed a wide-array of inconsistencies in what AT&T advertises as available and what actually exists when consumers try to get internet service," Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley said in a statement. Along with the number of actual subscribers to AT&T's fixed wireless service, the Public Service Commission requested the number of complaints filed with the company by customers who have taken service.
State utility regulators urge federal review of AT&T broadband claims
The Mississippi Public Service Commission is escalating its actions over allegations that telecommunications giant AT&T has misrepresented its deployment of federal money intended to expand rural broadband internet service in the state. In a letter on Tuesday, the state's three-member body in charge of regulating utility services asked the Federal Communications Commission to conduct "a complete compliance audit of AT&T Mississippi regarding their claims of providing service to over 133,000 locations in Mississippi as part of their obligation under the Connect American Fund II." In a statement provided to the Daily Journal by AT&T, the company insists its federal reports are already closely monitored by authorities. But in comments to the Daily Journal, the state's Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley was adamant in his belief that evidence shows AT&T has misled federal agencies about the availability of broadband access in Mississippi.
Judge removes Scott Walker as manager of dad's finances over 'misspending'
Scott Walker is jeopardizing his father's freedom by misspending his money instead of using it to repay the government for fraud, a federal judge said Tuesday. An only child, Scott Walker testified that he has been managing the finances of parents Bill and Sharon Walker since his father was released from prison in 2017. Bill Walker was then near the end of a five-year prison sentence for defrauding the federal government while he served as director of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources. Scott Walker was convicted in the case, too, and also in a separate fraud case. Father and son are supposed to be making monthly payments on hundreds of thousands of dollars they owe, but those payments abruptly stopped in February. Bill Walker's memory is failing, U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett learned, and he has been relying on Scott Walker for help. Starrett decided that a guardian should be appointed to oversee Bill Walker's money, removing his son from the equation. "It's just the right thing to do," Starrett said. "Your dad is facing time in federal prison and I've seen it's because his money is being misspent and he's not paying restitution."
Joe Biden endorses Mike Espy for Mississippi U.S. Senate
Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden has officially endorsed Mississippi Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate Mike Espy. "A lifelong Mississippian, Mike Espy has spent his career working to improve the lives of Mississippi's working families," Biden said in the release. "From his time as the first Black congressman from Mississippi since Reconstruction, to his critical leadership as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to his role helping to build a strong rural economy across the South, Mike Espy has the experience to move Mississippi forward." Biden's support adds to the list of endorsements for Mike Espy's 2020 campaign, including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Congressional Black Caucus PAC, Collective PAC, AFSCME, IBEW, Hon. Stacey Abrams, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Rep. Karen Bass, Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Former Secretary Ray Mabus, Former Secretary Rodney Slater, and over 75 local elected officials from across the state of Mississippi.
Trump, Biden Clash in Contentious First Debate
President Trump and Joe Biden clashed over the Supreme Court, the coronavirus and the economy in a debate marked by interruptions and insults from both candidates Tuesday -- with the Republican leader telling his rival that for "47 years you've done nothing" and the Democratic challenger calling Mr. Trump "the worst president that America has ever had." The two candidates constantly spoke over each other in a number of contentious exchanges, more notable for rancor than policy nuance. For roughly 90 minutes from a socially distanced hall in Cleveland, the candidates were vying for a narrow slice of persuadable voters amid a global pandemic, a polarizing fight over the court and fresh revelations about the president's taxes. The most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found the Democratic nominee leading by 8 percentage points, largely unchanged from August. Only 11% in the survey suggest that their vote is up for grabs, meaning they are not supporting Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden or said there is a "fair" or "small" chance they would vote for one of them. More than 70% said the debate wouldn't matter much to them.
Trump interruptions and call for racist group to 'stand by' mark first debate
Democratic nominee Joe Biden said during Tuesday's presidential debate that racist dog whistles of 1950 do not work anymore. President Donald Trump appeared to be putting that theory to the test. Asked by moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News whether he would condemn white supremacist violence and tell groups to stand down, Trump initially said he would, then called on white supremacists like the Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by." Several times, Wallace urged Trump to stop interrupting Biden and abide by rules his campaign had agreed to, leading to some speculation that the two subsequent debates on Oct. 15 and Oct. 22 might be called off. The substantive moments on the debate stage Tuesday night were limited, but not entirely absent. The early part of the debate featured discussion about the most pressing issues on Capitol Hill -- the president's nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, as well as health care more broadly and the COVID-19 pandemic in particular. Biden argued, as he and other Democrats have previously, that the election should take place before there's a real debate about who should fill the Supreme Court seat. Biden avoided answering, however, when asked whether he would seek to increase the number of seats on the Supreme Court or support ending the legislative filibuster, the 60-vote requirement in the Senate to bring bills up for votes.
Republicans plot out Amy Coney Barrett confirmation blitz
Senate Republicans say they can get Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court by Election Day, no problem. But to do so will require essentially a perfect confirmation process featuring almost no errors from Barrett and no slip-ups in the Senate. Though Supreme Court vacancies have been filled more quickly, Barrett's would be both rapid by historical standards and the closest ever to a presidential election. Add to that a president that's on the ropes in his reelection campaign and a close race for Senate control and it's easy to see why the White House and Senate GOP are taking every precaution necessary. The elaborate rituals of a Supreme Court nomination, which usually unfold over weeks or months, are being compressed to mere days under the Republican schedule. On Tuesday, Barrett held nine meetings with GOP senators, and she is expected to hold a similar number on Wednesday, meaning she'll have met with roughly a third of the Senate GOP in just two days. The FBI background check on Barrett is expected to be completed before her Senate Judiciary Committee hearing begins on Oct. 12, according to a Republican aide. If Barrett can stay on track, she will likely receive a committee vote on Oct. 22 and then a floor vote just days after.
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith to meet with Amy Coney Barrett Wednesday afternoon
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith has announced that she will be meeting with Judge Amy Coney Barrett Wednesday afternoon. Hyde-Smith has said of the Supreme Court nominee, "I believe President Trump has chosen a qualified conservative jurist who, if confirmed, will bring an important perspective to the Court." A number of Senate Democrats, including Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, have refused to meet with Coney Barrett, calling the entire process illegitimate. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans have praised her, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stating he was "even more convinced" of the pick after their meeting. Coney Barrett's confirmation process will begin on October 12.
How China Is Taking Over International Organizations, One Vote at a Time
As the Trump administration stepped back from many parts of the multilateral order established after World War II, China has emerged a chief beneficiary, intensifying a methodical, decadelong campaign. Beijing is pushing its civil servants, or those of clients and partners, to the helm of U.N. institutions that set global standards for air travel, telecommunications and agriculture. Gaining influence at the U.N. permits China to stifle international scrutiny of its behavior at home and abroad. Out of the U.N.'s 15 specialized agencies and groups, Chinese representatives lead four, beating Western-backed candidates last year for the top slot of the Food and Agriculture Organization. Qu Dongyu's win proved a wake-up call for the U.S. and its allies. In November last year, President Trump's national security adviser Robert O'Brien traveled to New York to meet permanent U.N. representatives from Europe, Japan and other democracies, proposing a common front against China. The European response, summarized by a person familiar with the meeting: Sure, but where have you been until now?
MUW students create communication tools for COVID-19 patients
Hundreds of Mississippians remain in the hospital with COVID-19, often times with few ways to talk with their family or their doctors. So students at the Mississippi University for Women are making sure they do not go unheard. Feeling isolated and alone are all too-common side-effects of the coronavirus. For people in the hospital with the disease, the need for a ventilator or the toll the virus takes can take away their ability to speak. So MUW senior Sarah Williams, president of the school's chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, decided to help give those patients a voice. "I can't even imagine not being able to have family there and having to struggle to communicate with the healthcare providers that you are able to be in contact with," she says. Williams' aunt, a nurse at a Southaven hospital, told her about the need for communication boards for local COVID-19 patients. "They have to clean [the boards] between each patient and they don't have enough quantity to match the number of patients that they are needing to serve at this time," Williams explained. So she and her NSSLHA classmates made more.
James Meredith film weighs 'complicated' civil rights figure
A new documentary is diving into the complicated, and sometimes contradictory life of James Meredith, a Black civil rights figure who helped change Mississippi. "Walk Against Fear: James Meredith," scheduled to air Thursday on the Smithsonian Channel, examines the life of a U.S. Air Force veteran and human rights agitator whose admission to the University of Mississippi forced President John F. Kennedy to send federal troops into the state to quell a white supremacy uprising. It was one of the most violent moments of the Civil Rights Movement and Meredith's determination to enroll in Ole Miss forever transformed life in the American Deep South. The documentary follows Meredith from his decision to challenge the University of Mississippi's segregationist policies and then a governor who personally tried to refuse to admit him. Meredith eventually attended classes thanks to federal court orders only to see white students walk out in protest.
FBI to unveil new cyber strategy during Auburn University virtual event
The Federal Bureau of Investigation will unveil its new cyber strategy this week during a virtual event hosted by Auburn University's McCrary Institute. The FBI's top cyber executives will participate in the event, beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday. FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director Matt Gorham will offer opening remarks on the new strategy, followed by an in-depth panel conversation moderated by McCrary Institute Director Frank Cilluffo and an audience question-and-answer session. The panel will consist of Gorham; Tonya Ugoretz, FBI deputy assistant director; and Clyde Wallace, FBI deputy assistant director. As malicious cyber activity threatens the public's safety and national and economic security, the FBI's goal is to change the behavior of criminals and nation-states who believe they can compromise U.S. networks, steal financial and intellectual property and put critical infrastructure at risk without facing risk themselves, according to statements by the agency. Following the event, members of the FBI will host a virtual recruiting event for Auburn University students.
Auburn University reports 17 new COVID-19 cases
Auburn University reported 17 new COVID-19 cases in the past week, according to data released by the University's COVID-19 Resource Center on Tuesday, Sept. 29. All 17 cases were reported on Auburn's main campus. The number of cases includes both self-reported positive tests and tests conducted through the Sentinel Testing program. This is a continued decrease from previous cases and the lowest amount reported since students have returned to campus. The University reported 53 positive tests for the week ending Sept. 20. There has been a continued decline in weekly cases since Sept. 6, when the University reported 598 cases of COVID-19. "Our students are doing a great job," said Dr. Fred Kam, director of the Auburn University Medical Clinic, in his weekly update video. "I know it's affected your socialization. I know it's affected, in some cases, your productivity, it's affected your mental health, all of these things. But you are resilient, and you continue to strive on."
LSU journalism school Dean Martin Johnson dies at 50; 'a loss we will feel forever'
Martin Johnson, a longtime trainer of young reporters and editors who two years ago was named dean at LSU's Manship School of Mass Communication, has died. He was 50. "He was an incredible person, father, and a friend and confidant to so many of us," said Josh Grimm, associate dean for undergraduate studies at Manship. "This is a loss we will feel forever." Grimm said Johnson passed away in his sleep overnight Monday. After consulting with his family, university officials said Tuesday afternoon Johnson died of a heart attack Johnson was an expert in social media and was often sought out for his thoughts on public commentary. Before being named dean of the Manship School in 2018, replacing Jerry Ceppos, he was associate dean for graduate studies and political communication for the school. "It was so easy handing off the school to him because he was a distinguished academic researcher, but he also understood in minute detail the practical aspects of working in the mass communication profession," Ceppos said Tuesday.
Workers at U. of Kentucky concerned about COVID strategies
The University of Kentucky has had more employees become infected with COVID-19 since mid-August than any other workplace in Lexington, the Lexington Herald-Leader has reported. At 103 infections from Aug. 13 to Sept. 14, the university has had more employees infected than the next nine employers -- including Amazon, Chick-fil-A and grocery chain Kroger -- combined. That includes, but is certainly not limited to, faculty. Workers at the university have said the administration is providing adequate personal protective equipment but not comprehensively carrying out other measures that the state has mandated for businesses. Despite being the Lexington workplace with the highest number of cases among employees, the university has pushed back against using comparisons with other businesses to evaluate its infection rate. "I don't believe the comparison tells you much -- given our size and the amount of testing, tracing, screening and tracking we are doing compared to anyone else," a spokesperson for the university said via email. "The University of Kentucky is the region's largest employer -- by far, and so should be expected to have the largest number of positive cases. Without knowing the telecommuting, social distancing, mask, screening, tracing and testing policies at each of these businesses, it is not possible to make a fair comparison across these employers."
Additional COVID-19 testing at U. of Tennessee shows positivity rate around 4%
Wastewater and pooled saliva testing at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville resulted in 21 students being referred to the Student Health Center for further COVID-19 testing. A small number of samples are still being tested, but UT found a positivity rate of about 3.7% in the 574 samples they took. Chancellor Donde Plowman and Vice Chancellor for Research Deborah Crawford said these numbers are lower than results from Massey Hall last week, which had a positivity rate around 7%. Pooled saliva testing took place in White and Hess halls last week. "These results tell us that the virus is pernicious and is likely being spread by individuals who don't know that they've been infected, because they're experiencing no symptoms or the very limited symptoms that they attribute to other causes like allergies," Crawford said during Tuesday's COVID-19 livestream. UT has 73 active COVID-19 cases and 298 people in isolation as of Sept. 28. As active cases have continued to drop, UT lifted some restrictions this week.
U. of South Carolina freezes tuition for 2021-2022 school year
The University of South Carolina will freeze for the second year in a row, President Robert Caslen said during a Wednesday speech. Caslen made the statement during the annual State of the University speech, which is Caslen's first since becoming USC's president in July 2019. Currently, the in-state tuition at USC is $12,688 and out-of-state tuition is $33,928, according to USC's financial aid website. When USC froze tuition for the 2020-2021 school year, it was the first time USC had frozen tuition since 1998. Next school year, 2021-2022, will be the third year in a row tuition costs have stayed the same. USC hasn't had three, consecutive years where in-state tuition remained the same since 1984-1986, according to S.C. Commission on Higher Education data. Under Caslen, USC has signaled a willingness to avoid tuition increases, even when the university is struggling financially. When the board of trustees approved this year's tuition freeze in June, the school was projected to lose $127 million and 10% of its enrollment because of coronavirus. Read more here:
Former Miss UGA creates program to help rural students acclimate to large campus atmosphere
For Briana Hayes, being named Miss University of Georgia changed her whole college experience. The title expanded her network and introduced her to people across campus and the state. She represented UGA at fundraisers, judged pageants and judged a lot of talent shows. "It was a lot of fun and a lot of traveling," she said. "I feel like I'm more connected to the university because of the title -- the people it allowed me to meet and relationships it allowed me to form," she said. Hayes is from Baxley, a tiny town of 4,400 people that sits two hours west of Savannah. And she wanted to find another way for students from rural towns to make connections, so in fall 2019 she started RISE, Rural students Igniting Success in Education, a student organization for rural students to come together. The transition from a rural town to a large university isn't easy, said Hayes, and she doesn't want any students to feel isolated. "Coming to campus I didn't know anybody," she said. "There were a few people from my hometown, but I never really saw them. When you go to a big school, you don't have people to introduce you to others." She wanted rural students to have an easy way to get to know other students or just learn the campus culture.
UF Board of Trustees approve furlough policy for faculty and staff
Some University of Florida employees may find themselves without a paycheck in the near future. UF's Board of Trustees unanimously passed an amendment Tuesday to implement furloughs, an unpaid leave of absence while employees still retain their jobs. But some faculty and staff members are concerned they're being targeted as administrators' salaries stay untouched. The regulation only gives UF the ability to enact furloughs. But administrators said there are no immediate plans to furlough anyone. Board Chairman Mori Hosseini, who dismissed pay cuts to UF administrators, said UF is able to have more in-person classes, furloughs won't be necessary. "Is it our goal to furlough people? No," Hosseini said. "Our goal is to get the University of Florida to top five -- no ifs, no buts." UF has cited more than $46 million in losses this year due to COVID-19. However, its net assets grew to almost $2 billion in the 2019 fiscal year from $1.7 billion in the year prior. UF is also set to complete its $3 billion "Go Greater" fundraising campaign in the Spring.
Texas A&M's Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion offers 'listening sessions'
Texas A&M University current and former students, faculty and staff are welcome to join "online listening sessions" hosted by the Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion starting today. Other community members are permitted to add their voices to the discussions, which will be hosted on Zoom. Today's session runs from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and Thursday's will be from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Attendees will hear an update on the commission's recent activities and will be placed in small groups so they can give input. The same information will be available at each session. The 45-member commission was formed at the end of July. According to the group's web page, A&M President Michael K. Young and A&M Provost Carol Fierke challenged the organization's leaders in early meetings to look for areas or issues that the school may be overlooking. "The goal is to have a campus climate that provides optimal educational opportunities for all," the site explains.
U. of Missouri brags COVID-19 cases are down. Experts say that can't be right
By the numbers, COVID-19 cases at the University of Missouri are down, and that looks good on paper. But it may not reflect reality. MU and other area universities are not testing students and staff regularly, so officials can't know how many of them are walking around spreading the coronavirus on campus, and in the surrounding community, infectious disease experts say. And at MU, only those who show symptoms are told to get a test. "We should not be reducing testing on college campuses," said Anthony Fehr, an assistant professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Kansas. "It is clear that they are a hotbed for infections, though few students actually exhibit symptoms." Fehr, who has been researching coronaviruses since 2012, said "continued random, regular testing of students on campuses is the only way that these schools will know the true prevalence rate of the virus and be able to contain it such that it does not spread exhaustively out into the larger community, where there are likely to be more at-risk individuals." Yet some experts say that wide-scale testing on campuses just isn't worth the cost. "Testing does not stop the spread of the disease," said John Middleton, an MU professor of veterinary medicine and infectious disease. "The problem with mass testing is it uses a lot of resources. It uses a lot of testing capability and with the supply chain the way it is and logistics the way they are, we are better to focus on those people that really need a test because it is medically indicated."
A proposal to add innovation and entrepreneurship to tenure and promotion criteria
Academics from 67 universities nationally have unanimously voted to approve a set of recommendations for recognizing innovation and entrepreneurial achievements among the criteria for higher education faculty promotion and tenure. The proposal is not to add a fourth prong to the traditional three of teaching, research and service. Rather, it is to place innovation and entrepreneurship within the three prongs. In addition, the proposal aims to be noncontroversial by saying that colleges and universities could let faculty members decide whether to be evaluated on that basis. But judging from the reaction of the American Association of University Professors, which was not consulted on the proposal, there is a controversy. The proposal came out of a National Science Foundation grant to Oregon State University to study whether it should add support for innovation and entrepreneurship into its tenure and promotion guidelines. That led to the creation of the Promotion and Tenure, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Coalition, which includes officials from the 67 universities. And while they unanimously back the idea, they are not in charge of tenure and promotion at their universities. The universities include Arizona State, Brown, Emory, Michigan State, New York and Purdue Universities and the Rochester Institute of Technology; the Universities of California at Berkeley, Los Angeles and San Diego; and the Universities of Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi and Washington.
Colleges Use Targeted Lockdowns, Online Classes to Preserve Fall Semester
Providence College put itself on lockdown last month, barring students who live on campus from traveling into town and telling those who live off campus to shelter in place, using food delivery services. Classes moved online. Students could socialize only with their roommates. The goal: save the semester. "If we can get this outbreak under control, we will have the opportunity -- together -- to write a great comeback story," Dean of Students Steven Sears wrote to students over the weekend, soon after the restrictions were renewed for another week. Providence is among colleges taking drastic steps to try to slow the spread of Covid-19, essentially pressing pause to salvage the rest of their fall term for face-to-face instruction and campus activities. Many schools say their experiences this fall are shaping their spring plans, including beefing up testing requirements and thinning out dorm populations. A number of schools have pointed to the University of Notre Dame as a model for how to tighten restrictions, briefly, and then loosen them again successfully.
'Super Healthy' College Student Dies of Rare Covid-19 Complications
Chad Dorrill was in "tremendous shape." Tall and slender. Played basketball. Ran long distances. But the 19-year-old college student died on Monday night, apparently of neurological complications related to Covid-19. Mr. Dorrill, a sophomore at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., had been living off campus and taking classes online when he became ill with flulike symptoms, the school's chancellor, Sheri Everts, wrote on Tuesday in a statement to students confirming his death. He tested positive for the coronavirus on Sept. 7 and quarantined for 10 days before returning to Boone, according to his uncle David Dorrill, who said he lives seven houses away from the family in Wallburg, N.C., near Winston-Salem. He said that after his nephew returned to college, he almost immediately began experiencing serious neurological problems. "When he tried to get out of bed," Mr. Dorrill said, "his legs were not working, and my brother had to carry him to the car and take him to the emergency room. The doctor said it was a one-in-a-million case --- that they'd never seen something progress the way it did. It was a Covid complication that rather than attacking his respiratory system attacked his brain."
'Did you not know that he was my brother?': Congressmen on Alpha Phi Alpha
A couple of years ago, Rep. Robert "Bobby" C. Scott got together with some friends from college, and the topic of education came up. He looked around the circle and saw a professor, a local school board member, an early childhood education advocate, and a scholarship foundation founder. "You can imagine the chair of the Education and Labor Committee was just delighted to be involved in that conversation," he says, referring to himself. "How often do you get a group like that, and it's just all of your fraternity brothers?" For Scott, that's the beauty of Alpha Phi Alpha. Half a century after he pledged at Harvard, the congressman still learns from his line brothers. "Education, education, education, education" is how Rep. Gregory W. Meeks sums up the civic engagement projects for which the fraternity is known. Like Scott, he's one of seven Alphas who currently sit in Congress. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II is another. "Out on what we used to call 'the cut,' which is out on the lawn, you were going to find Alphas together," he says of his time at Prairie View A&M University. Now he's watching Sen. Kamala Harris, a member of sister sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, run for vice president.
It's time to end legacy admissions
Joe Price, a higher education doctoral student at the University of Southern Mississippi, writes in Inside Higher Ed: We tell our children that education is the great equalizer. We say that in America if one commits themselves to their studies, if they are persistent, they can reach amazing heights. In America we speak of equal opportunity under the law. We understand that not every child has the same abilities, but we expect that all are given the same shot to reach their full potential. In these turbulent times, we see inequity for individuals with brown skin, for the disadvantaged and lower middle class. We see that justice is not blind, that hiring practices are not diverse, that housing and health-care opportunities are presented in tiers. As a college and career counselor and a higher education doctoral student at the University of Southern Mississippi, I view higher education as a means to break this cycle of unfairness, inequality and bias. I envision education as a tool to destroy institutional racism. However, the elite, the well-bred, the white and wealthy scoff at these notions as they use legacy admission practices to fill their education programs with applicants that look quite similar to college yearbooks from the 1930s or the 1850s.
We need more good souls like Doodle Pate
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "If a gas line ruptured. Get Doodle. If the power went out. Get Doodle. If a family needed shelter. Get Doodle." Federal Judge Mike Mills used the late Virgil "Doodle" Pate of Fulton to emphatically illustrate how some good souls live their faith in good works. Mr. Pate, a lifelong Baptist, was a founder of the volunteer fire department, later Fire Chief for 10 years, and Mike's indefatigable "assistant" Boy Scout master. He also served as president of the Mississippi Fire Chiefs' Association and helped start the state fire academy. We Mississippians may not intellectually grasp the esoteric theologies of the soul, but we know good souls when we see them. "Doodle never missed a community gathering whether PTA, political rally, cake sale or revival," continued Mike. "Yet he never pushed himself to the forefront. He was a man of remarkable authenticity. Truly humble. He spent his life quietly urging everyone around him to be as good as they could be. He had a gift of making everyone else feel special, regardless of color or class in our little community. He could not conceive of being mean, rude or selfish. He truly lived to serve others."
With Roe v. Wade as the litmus test, expect judicial appointments to be political brawls
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: Democrats and Republicans alike have strained at gnats to obscure the fact that decisions regarding the naming of a successor to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is about anything more impactful than the future of the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion. Regardless of who occupies the White House and regardless which party holds the Senate majority, the filling of Supreme Court vacancies and, for the most part, lower federal appellate court vacancies have been part and parcel to the same narrow political kabuki dance. The media fixation over whether Justice Ginsburg expressed a "dying wish" that her replacement not be chosen until after the 2020 presidential election is concluded is not remotely relevant to the process at hand. That quaint notion frames the esteem in which many held Justice Ginsburg but has precious little to do with how the political sausage-making of federal judicial appointments. For a truly comprehensive and refreshingly bi-partisan examination of the federal judicial appointment process, 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Leslie H. Southwick of Jackson wrote a thorough article entitled A Survivor's Perspective: Federal Judicial Selection from George Bush to Donald Trump that was published June 19 in the Notre Dame Law Review, Volume 95, Issue 5, Article 3.
Our View: Bulldog fans play an important role this fall
The Dispatch editorializes: From a public health perspective, whether Mississippi State should be playing football during the COVID-19 pandemic remains a valid question whose full consequences cannot be accurately determined. But from a mental health perspective, football may be just what the doctor ordered. Since March, the spectre of COVID-19 has hovered over the landscape. In the U.S. there have been more than 7 million cases and 205,000 deaths. Worldwide, there have been more than 33 millions cases with a million dead. But the effect of the virus goes beyond those worst outcomes. Everyone in some shape, form or fashion has been affected. It has disrupted our economy, our lifestyles, our routines and our attitudes. ... So, particularly in the South, where college football is widely considered one of the best parts of fall, Saturday's opening day of SEC football was a pleasant diversion, an escape from the tedium and worry and all things associated with the virus. ... On Saturday, MSU will play its first home game and the excitement is palpable. For a few hours, we can forget COVID-19 -- but not entirely. Attendance will be limited to 25 percent, about 16,000 fans. It is to those people we urge caution.

Cowbells expected to be loud, even at 25 percent capacity
The Junction may be empty, but the clanging of cowbells will return to Davis Wade Stadium this weekend, albeit in a limited capacity. With Mississippi State beginning its home slate against Arkansas on Saturday following a season-opening upset of then-No. 6 LSU in Baton Rouge last week, athletic department officials are preparing for the logistical challenges of hosting a football game amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "From maybe where they tailgated, or where they parked, or where they've sat, or how they've come into the game and all those things -- for some that may not be the same, just because of the situation," MSU Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director for Internal Affairs Jay Logan told The Dispatch. "So I think that in all the information I have, that we've put together it really comes down to our fans being patient and understanding with what we're trying to do. It's not like we're trying to really prohibit or restrict or punish. It's to provide a safe means to have sports and we're fortunate enough to be able to do that." Saturday also marks the debut of MSU's new food vendor, Proof of the Pudding, which will replace Aramark as the university's athletic venue food distributor. Options within Davis Wade Stadium are set to include Starkvegas Tacos and Junction Barbecue.
How K.J. Costello found 'third wind' under Mike Leach at Mississippi State
The good vibes keep coming. Mississippi State senior quarterback K.J. Costello said Tuesday's practice was "closer to a perfect practice" than last Tuesday's. At the time, Costello said last Tuesday's practice was his best since coming to Mississippi State. He proceeded to torch then-No. 5 LSU for 623 passing yards and five touchdowns a few days later. Uh oh, Arkansas. Costello is comfortable in coach Mike Leach's offense. That much was evident in his record-setting debut. But comfort was something he sought after for months since he started his final game at Stanford on Nov. 9, 2019. He decided to follow Leach to Mississippi State in February, but even then he wasn't comfortable. He could hardly throw a football because of a lingering thumb injury, after all. "I literally was not throwing the ball," Costello said. "I didn't know if I was going to play, didn't really know if I wanted to play in terms of like going out each and every day. I was rehabbing harder than anyone, I think, in the country. Two to three times a day. Literally 8, 12, 4 o'clock -- every single day." Yet here he is now, setting records quarterbacks Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel and even Joe Burrow didn't during their Heisman Trophy seasons in the SEC.
How good does Mississippi State's defense have to be with Mike Leach at the helm?
Nobody is calling Mike Leach a defensive genius. In eight years at Washington State, his defense finished in the bottom third of college football six times and concluded a year in the top 40 nationally in total defense just once. Despite that, he left Pullman as the second-winningest head coach in school history since World War II and boasts a career record of 139-90. Riding an offense that perennially finishes among the nation's best in passing yards and total offense, Leach's teams haven't needed to be great defensively to be effective. But now boasting a defense that surprised doubters in MSU's season-opening upset of then-No. 6 LSU, his first team in Starkville could prove far more dangerous than initially believed. "Our defensive line does a good job of that," Leach said of his defense's pursuit of the quarterback against LSU. "Mississippi State has had good defensive linemen over time, and then when Zach (Arnett) does that pressure stuff ... Mississippi State broke in a huge portion of that with Joe Lee Dunn. Sometimes old ways are best."
Best slinger in the West: K.J. Costello makes impression in Mississippi State debut
In the Pac-12, Mike Leach and K.J. Costello were opponents. Leach was the coach at Washington State the previous eight seasons. Costello was a starting quarterback at Stanford, where in 2018 he completed 34 of 43 passes for 423 yards and 4 touchdowns in his team's 41-38 loss to Leach's Cougars. Now Leach and Costello are on the same team at Mississippi State, which upset defending national champion LSU 44-34 at Tiger Stadium last week. After Leach received a four-year, $20 million contract to become Mississippi State's coach, Costello followed him to Starkville, Miss., as a senior graduate transfer. It looks like a pretty good move for both coach and quarterback after Costello had an SEC-record 623 passing yards at LSU. "I thought it was a really good debut," Leach said. "I mean, some of his turnovers were his fault and some weren't. But I think that it's a good start." The University of Arkansas will try to slow down Costello and the Bulldogs' "Air Raid" offense when the Razorbacks play No. 16 Mississippi State at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Starkville. "K.J. Costello had his career game," Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman said. "I mean, it was unbelievable. And for him to be a transfer and then coming in to do what he did was really outstanding."
All in for Children's campaign continues ahead of Sanderson Farms Championship
Preliminary events for the 2020 Sanderson Farms Championship are underway, and while you may not be able to attend this year's tournament, through the ongoing "All in for Children's" campaign, you can still help support Blair E. Batson Children's hospital. The tournament continues to sell its custom masks, featuring the logos of both the championship and the children's hospital, with all proceeds benefiting the facility which offers everything from emergency care to highly specialized heart and cancer care for kids. "There are 175,000 children that go through Baton's every year. That's what this golf tournament is all about, and that's what these masks are all about," Joe Sanderson, the company's CEO, said. Since 2017 -- when Sanderson Farms took over as the PGA event's title sponsor -- the tournament has raised more than $7.7 million to benefit Batson's. Additionally, 'Friends of Children's Hospital,' chaired by Joe and Kathy Sanderson, donated $20 million to the hospital's expansion effort. You can also support the hospital through the purchase of this year's 2020 Sanderson Farms Championship print, designed by local artist Wyatt Waters. 30% of the proceeds from the prints will be donated to the cause.
Itawamba Community College explains 2020 football season safety changes for pandemic
Itawamba Community College is prepping for its first football game of the 2020 season, a home game on Thursday, October 1st. President Dr. Jay Allen explained some of the differences fans can expect at this season's games. "In compliance of Executive Order 1519 from the governor, we have limited our capacity to 25%," Allen said. He and Head Football Coach Sean Cannon said they are used to games being standing room only. "That's one thing we've always prided ourselves on here is having great crowds," Cannon said. In addition to crowd size, he said a notable change is the 6-game regular season. "We've given two tickets to every one of our participants, as well as the visiting team, and so that left us with tickets that we then provided to students and employees," Allen said. Allen added tickets will be entirely different this year. First off, they're free for all three of ICC's home games this season. Allen explained that on Tuesday, tickets became available for students to get through an online portal. Wednesday, he added, the public can go online and claim their tickets.
Clemson's Dabo Swinney supports players' social justice push but not BLM stickers
A matter of semantic dissonance has brought coach Dabo Swinney and his Clemson players to something of a soft impasse. The Tigers this season have worn stickers on their helmets bearing social justice slogans, including 'Black Lives Matter.' Swinney on Monday said during his weekly radio show he is supportive of his players but not the stickers. And on Tuesday he was specifically asked about Black Lives Matter (BLM), which is also the name of a global organization that advocates for racial justice but has fallen out of favor with some because of its hardline positions. "I'm on board with a lot of the messages. I'm not on board with political organizations," he said. "That's a different question. I'm apolitical. To me, that's divisive." His comments about the BLM organization and about politics caught fire on social media. Swinney, who insisted he believes "black lives more than matter," drove home the point he considers himself to be non-political. The problem is in 2020, it's virtually impossible to separate politics from the push for racial justice.
Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly ties coronavirus outbreak to pregame meal, vomiting player
Notre Dame will resume team practices Wednesday after reporting 18 positive coronavirus tests on Monday, but the program has changed the way it will eat its pregame meals and will now have rapid antigen tests available on the sideline because of lessons learned from their outbreak, coach Brian Kelly told ESPN on Tuesday. Kelly said team doctors determined that the outbreak, which resulted in 25 players in isolation and 14 others in quarantine, stemmed from two events surrounding the Sept. 19 game against South Florida: eating their pregame meal together, and one player who threw up on the sideline during the game and was treated for dehydration. Kelly said the change in routine from summer camp to game week revealed new challenges that could have only been discovered with the start of the season. Kelly said one encouraging lesson from this outbreak was that Notre Dame believes there wasn't a lot of on-field transmission, if any, to South Florida. He said because of that, he believes "college football is in good shape."
President Donald Trump, during debate, declares, 'I brought back Big Ten football'
President Donald Trump, during the 2020 presidential debate, took credit for the return of fall football in the Big Ten. While discussing the economy Tuesday night, Trump said he is the reason Big Ten football reversed its decision to postpone fall sports due to the coronavirus pandemic. "By the way, I brought back Big Ten football," he said. "It was me, and I'm very happy to do it and the people of Ohio are very proud of me," before moderator Chris Wallace attempted to move the conversation back to the debate topic. The Big Ten announced on Sept. 16 that it would start its nine-week season on Oct. 23. Although Trump took to social media on several occasions to announce his support of Big Ten football reversing its decision, according to one person with knowledge of the discussions between the White House and Big Ten league officials, the league never requested or accepted any resources from the White House. Big Ten officials directed credit to its medical advisory board for the plan created to safely bring back football for the fall.

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