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May 28, 2016

LurnyD's Grille Named Best Food Truck in Mississippi

By amber_helsel

We may not have as many food trucks as states such as New York or Pennsylvania, but our food truck culture is growing.

The Daily Meal recently compiled a list of the best food truck in each state, and LurnyD's Grille in Jackson has taken the title for Mississippi.

The truck has been serving hungry Jacksonians since 2013 with burgers such as the sunrise burger, which has bacon, cheese and a fried egg, and the goober burger, which has peanut butter and bacon.

To see the complete list, visit http://ow.ly/xKVO300GifA

May 27, 2016

SEC and C-USA Baseball Tournaments Update

By bryanflynn

Rock 'n' roll superstar Meatloaf once sang, “Two out three ain’t bad.” That lyric could be used for college baseball teams from Mississippi in their respective tournaments.

As conference baseball tournaments drag toward the weekend, both the University of Mississippi and the University of Southern Mississippi are off today. The Rebels and the Eagles have reached the semifinals of the SEC and C-USA Tournaments.

More on those semifinals in a bit.

But first, let's spend a little time discussing Mississippi State University. The Bulldogs' 6-2 loss to Louisiana State University has put MSU in the loser's bracket of the SEC Tournament.

That means MSU has to beat No. 4 seed the University of Florida tonight at 6:30 p.m., in an elimination game that will be broadcasted on the SEC Network.

Beating the Gators is no small task, and that just gets the Bulldogs past the foothills of the mountain they now have to climb. And by losing to LSU, MSU is going to have to climb a mountain if it wants to win this tournament.

If MSU wins tonight, the team will have to beat LSU twice on Saturday. Advantage goes to the Tigers. If the Bulldogs do accomplish that feat, they will reach the championship game.

The question is what kind of shape the pitching staff be in after playing six games in five days. That is why today’s rest day is so important for both LSU and the Rebels.

The Tigers and Rebels began play on Tuesday when the tournament was single elimination. The fact that LSU and UM have had some of the hottest bats in the tournament has helped both teams.

LSU beat the University of Tennessee 5-4, Florida 5-3 and MSU 6-2, committing six errors along the way. While LSU has gotten away with errors, three from the Bulldogs cost them the game against the Tigers.

The Rebels, on the other hand, have been crushing teams. They beat the University of Georgia 5-1, University of South Carolina 10-4 and Vanderbilt University 12-9.

UM can reach the championship game if the team can beat the winner of the Vanderbilt and Texas A&M University game. Whoever faces the Rebels, the Commodores or Aggies will have to win twice to reach the title game.

The Rebels and Tigers are in great position to advance if they don’t get cold having the day off.

Speaking of days off, USM is also off today. The Golden Eagles have had some of the hottest bats in the C-USA Tournament.

USM has beaten Old Dominion University 17-5 and Marshall University 9-3. Southern Miss has hit a grand slam on each tournament game.

Now, the Golden Eagles await the winner of the Marshall and Florida International University game. Whatever team meets USM, it will have to beat the Golden Eagles twice to reach the championship game.

On the other side of the C-USA Tournament bracket, Rice University is off ...

May 26, 2016

E-sports Are Growing

By bryanflynn

Tomorrow night on the TBS network, the world of e-sports comes into everyone’s living room. There might not be faster-growing sport organizations in the world than competitive video-game leagues.

In Asia, the players are already treated like rock stars. In 2014, more than 205 million people watched e-sports online, which has allowed for rapid growth in the industry. TV might be the last medium that e-sports has yet to take over.

TBS will broadcast “ELeague” on Friday, May 27, at 9 p.m. in an attempt to cash in on the big money associated with e-sports.

While most e-sports players are men, growing numbers of women are coming into leagues. Youth is another staple of e-sports. While that doesn’t mean that all players are young, there is a smaller chance of seeing a bunch of 35-year olds batting it out.

The “League of Legends” Championship is one of the biggest events in e-sports. “League of Legends” itself is a popular multiplayer online battle arena, or MOBA, and real-time strategy video game from Riot Games. In 2013, the tournament took place at the Staples Center, home of the LA Lakers and Clippers, and the venue sold out in a short amount of time.

Not only are people watching online, but they are also watching live in arenas and stadiums around the world. In the United States, the Super Bowl is the only sporting event that more people watch than the “League of Legends” Championship.

The prizes and salaries for top tournaments and players are also growing. In 2014, Chinese e-sports club NewBee won $5.03 million for winning the title for “Dota 2,” a MOBA from developer Valve.

Some top players earn salaries of about $65,000, not including bonuses or endorsements, though most teams do not disclose salaries.

ESPN has an e-sports page for the latest news in the industry, and colleges are even starting to get involved in e-sports, as well.

The Pac-12 is the first major college conference to jump on the e-sports bandwagon. Geographically, the Pac-12 makes perfect sense to be the first major conference in eSports.

Robert Morris University was the first American institution to offer scholarships for e-sports back in 2014. Miami University in Ohio started a varsity e-sports program this year. The Big 10 is starting to take steps into the e-sports world, as well.

It is not crazy for TBS to try to jump into a nontraditional sport. ESPN has done well with the World Series of Poker over the years. The “Worldwide Leader in Sports” has also televised the national spelling bee.

TBS might start a boom in e-sports, much like ESPN started a boom in poker during the early 2000s, as nearly every station tried to create its own poker program. The boom made several poker stars well known across the nation.

If TBS plays its cards right, the network could be at the front of next ...

May 26, 2016

Reeves Commends Bryant for Joining Transgender Bathroom Lawsuit

By adreher

Below is a verbatim press release from Lt. Gov. Reeves supporting Gov. Phil Bryant's decision to join the lawsuit challenging Obama's transgender school bathrooms directive:

"Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves today commended Gov. Phil Bryant for joining a lawsuit challenging the federal directive to open bathrooms in Mississippi schools to both sexes.

“I appreciate Gov. Bryant representing Mississippi kids’ interest in this lawsuit fighting massive federal overreach into our communities,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said."

May 25, 2016

Malik Newman Withdraws from 2016 NBA Draft

By bryanflynn

Malik Newman tested the NBA Draft waters and has decided that he didn’t like his current chances. The current Mississippi State University player and former Callaway High School star has decided to withdraw from the draft.

Newman still decided to drop out after working out for the New York Knicks yesterday. He also worked out for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets.

Today is the final day that players who haven’t signed with an agent can withdraw from the draft and return to school. Anyone who doesn’t withdraw forfeits their college eligibility and will remain in the draft.

Newman was one of the top players in the country coming out of high school. The popular thought was that he would showcase his skills for one college season before jumping to the NBA.

But things didn’t go as planned. He was hit with injuries and was inconsistent on the court. During his first season at MSU, Newman averaged 11.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. He also had 1.9 turnovers per game and shot just 39.1 percent from the field and 37.9 percent from the three-point line.

Still, even after an up-and-down freshman season, Newman was right to take advantage of the new rule that allows players to go to the NBA Combine.

Several blogs reported that Newman shot the ball well during shooting drills on day one of the event, but he didn’t stand out during the team drills. Mock drafts had Newman anywhere from being a late second-round pick to being undrafted.

Coming back to school isn’t the worst thing for Newman. He can use his time at college to better his game and still test the NBA waters after next season. Under the current rules, he can declare for the draft for three seasons (freshman, sophomore, junior) and go back to school if he doesn’t sign with an agent.

Where he will play next season might be the next question. ESPN, citing multiple sources, says Newman may transfer to another Division I school after being unhappy in his role under first-year coach Ben Howland.

If Newman does transfer to another Division I, he will have to sit out a year due to NCAA rules. That would likely mean he would have to wait two years before giving the NBA Draft another try.

MSU has another highly talented class—in most cases considered a top 10 class—coming in next season. Newman could also decide to stay with the Bulldogs and be part of a major turn around.

No matter where Newman ends up, he will have to put his NBA dreams on hold for at least one more year.

May 25, 2016

Did Wins Mean More Than Protecting Women at Baylor?

By bryanflynn

Scandals are nothing new in college sports, especially in football. It wouldn’t be shocking if every school in the country engaged in some sort of rule violation.

Schools in the Power Five conferences—ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12 and SEC—are going to garner most of the spotlight for those violations. But in reality, not every scandal is equal.

Sure, it is a scandal if a kid asks for money to pay his mom’s rent and utility bills. That story will have legs and be discussed at length by the media, but besides the NCAA, do we really care that much that a kid got money while in college?

To the rival school, it means something, but in the grand scheme of things, it really isn’t that major.

The major story in college athletics is the way coaches, administrators and even school presidents turn a blind eye to sexual assaults.

The recent scandal at Baylor isn’t anything new. It just highlights, again, how schools try to sweep sexual assaults under the rug.

Right now the U.S. Department of Education is investigating 161 institutions for their handling of sexual-assault investigations. Baylor currently isn’t on that list, but you should expect that to change at some point.

It also makes one question if winning on the field is more important than the safety of women on campus.

ESPN has investigated and documented the Baylor scandal in great detail. Baylor looked the other way over sexual assaults from at least 2009 to 2015.

At the same time, the Bears were starting to turn things around on the field. In late 2007 Baylor hired Art Briles away from the University of Houston.

Baylor went 8-16 from 2008 to 2009 on the field but finished with a winning record of 7-6 in 2010. It was the first winning season for the Bears since 1995, and the team went to its first bowl game since 1994.

The Bears were the "feel good" story of college football during the 2011 season, as the team tied a then-school record for wins with 10, won a bowl game for the first time since 1992 and finished the season ranked for the first time since 1986.

Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III became the first player from the university to win the Heisman Trophy.

To the outside world, this was one of the great turnaround stories in college football history.

Off the field was another story for Baylor.

The university failed to investigate sexual assault cases for two years from 2013 to 2015, a violation of Title IX federal law. Baylor didn’t even hire a full-time Title IX coordinator to comply with a federal directive until late 2014.

One glaring case involved two players, Tre’von Armstead and Myke Chatman, who were named in a Waco police department report involving sexual assault in April 2013. The university knew of the report, but ...

May 24, 2016

USM to Host C-USA Tournament Starting Wednesday

By bryanflynn

Conference USA heads to Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg, Miss., for the sixth time to hold the conference’s baseball tournament. The University of Southern Mississippi also hosted in 1996, 2005, 2009, 2014 and 2015.

Being back in the friendly confines of home might be just what USM needed after the final weekend of C-USA play. The Golden Eagles hit the road to play against Florida International University.

USM was in first place in the conference before the series with FIU and led Rice University, Marshall University and Florida Atlantic University by a half a game to a full game. Instead of having a chance to capture its fourth C-USA regular season title, the Golden Eagles lost to FIU three times.

The losses dropped USM from a possible No. 1 seed in the eight-team C-USA Tournament to the No. 3 seed. Florida Atlantic and Marshall were able to pass the Golden Eagles for the top two seeds this week. Rice was the only team that USM was able to stay ahead of in the final weekend of conference play.

The tournament begins on Wednesday, May 24, at 9 a.m., as the No. 5 seed, Louisiana Tech University, faces off against the No. 4 seed, Rice. USM will play in the third game of the day against Old Dominion University, who is the No. 7 seed.

USM didn’t face Old Dominion during the regular season. Most of the season, the Golden Eagles have been ranked in the top 25 polls, going as high as No. 13, but are currently ranked 23rd in the nation.

Florida Atlantic and Rice are currently ranked at 18th and 24th, respectively.

If the Golden Eagles win, they will face the winner of the nightcap game between No. 7-seed FIU and No. 2-seed Marshall. The winner of the first game of the day faces the winner of the second game between topseed FAU and the No. 8-seed University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

This is a double-elimination tournament, meaning it takes two losses, excluding the championship game, for a team to be eliminated from contention. USM is the only team to have taken part in all 21 C-USA Baseball Tournaments.

For Southern Miss to reach the championship game, the Golden Eagles will have to defeat the other three teams in their side of the bracket: Marshall, FIU and Old Dominion. The winner of each side of the bracket will meet at 1 p.m. for the conference-title game, which will air on the CBS Sports Network.

The championship game is single elimination. The winner of the championship game earns an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

May 24, 2016

A Look Ahead at Album Releases (May-June 2016)

By micah_smith

As the summer starts, so does the music festival circuit. That's the primetime for many bands and solo artists to release new music, giving them a little something extra to promote while on tour. Here's a look at some of the big releases—and a few smaller ones that I'm looking forward to—for the coming weeks.

May 20, 2016

Mississippi College Bests Belhaven for National Title

By bryanflynn

Mississippi College set a school record for softball wins today in what might be the coolest way. The Choctaws won their 39th game as they took down Belhaven University 3-0, winning the 2016 National Christian College Athletic Association Softball National Championship.

MC was the top seed in the NCCAA Softball World Series, and the Blazers were the No. 2 seed in the eight-team tournament. For the most part, both schools dominated.

The Choctaws rolled by teams with scores of 14-4, 11-0, 13-5 and 5-1 to get to the championship game. Belhaven battled its way through the tournament, winning 5-1, 6-1, and 6-5 in an extra innings game, and 9-1 to make the title match.

MC struck quickly with a run in the first inning and, in reality, it was the only run the team needed that day. The Choctaws got two more insurance runs in the fifth inning to seal the win over the Blazers.

Mississippi College pitcher Carlie Sargent earned Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, as she tossed seven shutout innings for the complete game. Sargent (21-11) threw her ninth career shutout as she struck out seven, walked two and scattered four hits.

Belhaven pitcher Julienne Broussard (16-4) pitched seven complete innings, giving up eight hits, three earned runs, five strikeouts and one walk in a losing effort. Katherine Lee, leadoff hitter for MC, went 2-for-4 at the plate, and outfielder Megan Everett went 1-for-3 with two RBIs.

Tylan Buckley, outfielder for the Choctaws, went 1-for-4 but drove in the first run for MC. No player for Belhaven could muster more than one hit.

The Blazers finish the season with a 37-9 record, and Mississippi College ends the season with 39-19 record and a national title. This is the first women’s national championship title in school history.

Belhaven and MC dominated the All-Tournament selections as they dominated the tournament itself. The schools combined to place five of the 11 players selected for the post-tournament honors.

Sargent was not only the MOP but was also named to the All-Tournament Team. Joining her for MC were Lauren Mulligan and Everett. Belhaven placed Dani Craft and Crystal Kehtel on the All-Tournament Team.

May 19, 2016

Nyquist Looks to Conquer the Second Leg of the Triple Crown

By bryanflynn

Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist is a huge favorite at the 141st Preakness Stakes. After holding off the field in “the Run for the Roses,” the unbeaten horse was installed as a 3-5 favorite after the post draw yesterday.

This year’s Preakness Stakes features 11 horses, just three short of a full field. Nyquist once again got a nice post by drawing the No. 3 position.

The Preakness is the shortest of the Triple Crown races at 1.19 miles. It also features the smallest maximum field of the three races.

Exaggerator is the second choice at 3-1 odds after drawing the No. 5 post. The third favorite is Stradivari, drawing the No. 11 post and at 8-1 odds.

Collected is the fourth choice at 10-1 odds from the No. 7 post. In between Collected and Exaggerator is Japanese horse Lani, who is a 30-1 shot from the No. 6 post and showed all kinds of difficulties in training and before the race in Kentucky.

Cherry Wine from the No. 1 post and Uncle Lino from the No. 2 post were installed at 20-1 odds. The rest of the field—Awesome Speed (No. 4 post), Laoban (No. 8 post), Abiding Star (No 9 post) and Fellowship (No. 10 post)—all join Lani as 30-1 long shots.

Exaggerator, who finished second in the derby, and Lani, who finished ninth, are the only horses from the previous 20-horse field joining Nyquist in the second Triple Crown race. The other eight horses didn’t run in Kentucky.

As the horses are called to post, the United States Navy Glee Club leads the crowd in singing “Maryland, My Maryland,” the official state song of Maryland. The winner of the race is given a blanket of yellow Vikings daisies, daubed with black lacquer in the center to resemble the Black-Eyed Susan.

Black-Eyed Susans, the state flower of Maryland, don’t bloom until June, which is why the flowers are altered for a race that is run in late May.

You can eat and drink like you are at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore if you want to make your race-day party authentic. Maryland crab cakes are a staple at the event along with hot crab dip, oysters, Maryland beaten biscuits and Lady Baltimore cake.

The drink of the Preakness Stakes is also called the Black-Eyed Susan. It consists of bourbon, vodka, sweet-and-sour mix and orange juice. This is the lesser-known Triple Crown drink behind the Mint Julep at the Kentucky Derby.

NBC’s coverage will begin at 4 p.m., but the actual Preakness won’t run until 5:30 p.m. or 5:45 p.m.

If Nyquist wins, he will go into the final race, the Belmont Stakes, with a chance to win the Triple Crown. If he loses, the Triple Crown awaits for another horse next year.

May 19, 2016

U.S. House Approves Bill With Amendment to Ban Confederate Flags at VA Cemeteries

By adreher

Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Veteran's Affairs spending bill that had contains an amendment that will ban Veteran Affairs cemeteries from flying Confederate flags. The vote on U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman's (D-CA) amendment ignited debate yesterday in the House but passed this morning by a vote of 265-159. The bill has a ways to go to become law, however, as it will head to the U.S. Senate next.

U.S. Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) released the following statement regarding today’s vote in the House of Representatives to approve an amendment to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs spending bill that will limit the display of Confederate flags at national cemeteries:

“I am very pleased with the result of today’s vote to approve an amendment from my colleague Representative Jared Huffman to limit the display of confederate flags at national cemeteries. The Confederate flag belongs in a museum along with other relics of the past and not in a place of prominent display such as cemeteries run by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.”

“Although it was very disappointing that many in the Republican party voted to cling to the last vestiges of slavery and support the flag that represents the darkest times in our country, I am encouraged that many hearts and minds have been changed and that this symbol will no longer fly above VA cemeteries.”

May 18, 2016

ACLU of Mississippi Responds to GOP House Reps Letter to Dr. Wright

By adreher

The following is a statement from American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi Executive Director Jennifer Riley-Collins in response to the group of Mississippi House Republicans who have asked state Superintendent Dr. Carey Wright to step down if she follows the White House’s directive on protecting transgender students’ rights. Some Mississippi Republican Senators have also sent a letter to Wright, asking her to not follow the White House's directive:

“The Mississippi GOP Representatives’ response and threat to the State Superintendent is, yet, another step in the wrong direction. Transgender youth are entitled to the same educational opportunities, anti-harassment protections, and expressive freedoms as other students.

The Obama administration’s guidance is simply providing schools with clarity as to the legal obligations that they already had under Title IX. With this guidance, there should now be absolutely no question as to what schools need to do to ensure they are upholding their obligations under federal civil rights law regarding the treatment of transgender students.

Schools must enforce their dress codes equally and equitably. Schools should permit transgender students to comply with the dress code that reflects their gender identity. The obligation of schools to keep transgender students safe extends to bathrooms and locker rooms. A transgender student should be able to use the bathroom that reflects his or her gender identity. Isolating transgender students, as well as threatening a government official who is asked to follow the law (Title IX), sends, yet, another message that it is acceptable to discriminate in Mississippi.

The ACLU of Mississippi stands ready to defend any student treated differently because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. School should be a safe place for all students.”

May 18, 2016

Mississippi GOP Senators Call for Board of Education to Ignore White House Directive

By sierramannie

Following a letter from Mississippi House GOP members, 27 Mississippi Senate GOP members have signed a letter penned to the Mississippi Board of Education and state superintendent Dr. Carey Wright, urging them to resist the White House directive to protect the rights of transgender students.

This morning, Wright said that MDE would halt action on the directive pending a discussion with the State Board of Education.

Below is the text of the letter:

Dear MS Board of Education and Dr. Wright:

Members of the Mississippi Senate, along with our constituents and fellow Mississippians, stand with Governor Bryant and demand the Mississippi Department of Education disregard the joint guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice regarding Title IX funding and accommodations for students with gender dysphoria. The federal government is, in effect, trying to blackmail our state by implying that funding for public schools will be withheld should we continue to recognize biological sex when setting safety and privacy policies for our schools. Dr. Wright made the decision to usurp the board’s authority and unilaterally issue the policy decision to acquiesce to the illegal demands of the federal government. For this, the superintendent must be held accountable.

Section 203 of our state constitution establishes the Board of Education. The Board holds the sole responsibility to “formulate policies according to law for implementation by the State Department of Education.” Dr. Wright’s decision to forego the will of the Board and impose her political will on the entire state is fundamentally unconstitutional. It is the Board’s job to formulate policy, not the superintendent’s. Dr. Wright’s policy statement issued on May 13, 2016 is non-binding and should be immediately withdrawn.

Additionally, if Dr. Wright, in her capacity as State Superintendent of Education, does not recognize the danger that such an irresponsible policy decision will impose on the children of our state, then it is obvious that her ideals and values do not represent those of the state of Mississippi and the board should act accordingly. WE look forward to your swift and decisive action on the urgent matter and each of us stand ready to meet or speak with you if necessary.

Thank you in advance for your immediate attention on the issue.

Senate David L. Parker Senator Michael Watson Senator Kevin Blackwell Senator Jennifer Branning Senator Nicky Browning Senator Chris Caughman Senator Videt Carmichael Senator Lydia Chassaniol Senator Buck Clarke Senator Denise Dollar Senator Sally Doty Senator Joey Fillingane Senator Tommy Gollott Senator Josh Harkins Senator Angela Hill Senator Billy Hudson Senator Gary Jackson Senator Dean Kirby Senator Chris Massey Senator Chris McDaniel Senator Chad McMahon Senator Phillip Moran Senator Rita Parks Senator John Polk Senator Mike Seymour Senator Sean Tindell Senator Chuck Younger

May 18, 2016

Biggest Game in Mississippi Brilla FC History is Tonight

By bryanflynn

The cliché of the biggest or most important game in a team’s history gets tossed around quite a bit in sports circles. But tonight, for the Mississippi Brilla FC, it will be a lock that the biggest match in franchise history is going to be played in Clinton, Miss.

A week ago on May 11, the Brilla picked up what, at the time, was the biggest win in team history. The Mississippi Brilla won their first ever match in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in a 2-0 victory over C.D. Motagua of New Orleans. This was the first tournament appearance for CD Motagua.

In Brilla's third appearance, the team finally broke through to get a win in the tournament.

Brazilian player Eduardo Cruz opened the scoring in the 28th minute to give the Brilla a 1-0 lead. Chilean player Ignacio Flores finished the scoring and secured the win with a goal shortly before the end of the first half.

The 2-0 lead was all the Brilla needed in the second half, as they fended off chances by C.D. Motagua. By getting the win, the Brilla moved into the second round of the U.S. Open Cup for the first time in team history.

That was the biggest win in the history of the Mississippi Brilla FC until the team takes the field tonight. In the second round of the U.S. Open Cup, Brilla will play against the Oklahoma City Energy of the United Soccer League.

This will be the first U.S. Open Cup match for the Energy after they received a bye into the second round. But this will not be the first game of the season for the club.

The Energy has already played six matches this season and have a win, four draws and a loss. Oklahoma City is on a five-match unbeaten streak after it opened the season with a loss to Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC.

Not to be out done, the Brilla enter this match on a two-game winning streak. This past Saturday, May 14, the team won its first Premier Development League match.

After falling behind 1-0 to the Peachtree City MOBA in the 64th minute, the Brilla got a goal from Cruz in the 68th minute to tie the game. The Brilla won the game when Lucas Cordeiro’s header found the back of the net, giving the team the 2-1 win.

The Brilla will need Cruz, Flores and Cordiero to play big tonight. The club will also need keeper Brendan Ledgeway to be a brick wall in front of the goal.

Other players who could come up big for the Brilla tonight are Brandon Hall, Jake McCain, Oscar Jimenez, Noor Hamadi and Tom Paul. It will take a whole team effort for the Brilla to beat Oklahoma City.

The Energy have plenty of dangerous players as well, such as Kalen Ryden, Jordan Rideout, Coy Craft and Sebastian Dalgaard.

Danni Konig is ...

May 18, 2016

Mississippi Department of Education Stalls on Directive to Protect Trans Students

By sierramannie

The Mississippi Department of Education said Friday that they would adhere to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as well as the joint guidance issued that day by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice to curb discrimination against trans students in order to "provide a safe and caring school environment" for Mississippi's students. A May 18 statement from state superintendent Dr. Carey Wright, however, is now directing the state's Department of Education to take no action.

"Pending a discussion with the Mississippi State Board of Education, I am instructing the Mississippi Department of Education to follow the lead of state leadership and take no action at this time regarding the non-regulatory guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education," Wright said in the press release.

This is a day after a letter from Mississippi House Republicans yesterday called for Wright to step down from her position if MDE honored the White House directive to protect transgender students, claiming that the "policy of allowing boys or men into bathrooms and locker rooms with girls poses a threat to the safety and well being of every school-aged girl in this state."

Gov. Phil Bryant also asked MDE Friday not to follow the directive, calling it the “president’s social experiment.

Sierra Mannie is an education reporting fellow for the Jackson Free Press and The Hechinger Report. Read more at jfp.ms/education.

May 17, 2016

2016 Blues Music Award Winners Announced

By micah_smith

The Blues Foundation has released the list of winners for this year's Blues Music Awards following its 37th annual award ceremony, which took place at the Cook Convention Center in Memphis, Tenn., on May 5.

Even casual blues fans will recognize many of the musicians honored that night. The list includes Grammy Award nominee Cedric Burnside, who won both Best Traditional Blues Album and Best Instrumentalist-Drummer; Buddy Guy, who won Best Album and Best Contemporary Blues Album for "Born to Play Guitar," the release that also won him a Grammy this year; and Allen Toussaint, who earned the highly coveted title of the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year.

At the same time, there are plenty of blues musicians that listeners may not be as familiar with among the winners, emphasizing just how much diverse talent exists within the genre, let alone the entire field of music.

Here is the full list of winners. Be sure to check out any you don't know!

Acoustic Album - "The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard" by Duke Robillard

Acoustic Artist - Doug MacLeod

Album - "Born to Play Guitar" by Buddy Guy

B.B. King Entertainer - Victor Wainwright

Band - Victor Wainwright & the Wild Roots

Best New Artist Album - "The Mississippi Blues Child" by Mr. Sipp

Contemporary Blues Album - "Born to Play Guitar" by Buddy Guy

Contemporary Blues Female Artist - Shemekia Copeland

Contemporary Blues Male Artist - Joe Louis Walker

Historical - "Soul & Swagger: Buzzin' the Blues" by Slim Harpo (Bear Family Records)

Instrumentalist-Bass - Lisa Mann

Instrumentalist-Drums - Cedric Burnside

Instrumentalist-Guitar - Sonny Landreth

Instrumentalist-Harmonica - Kim Wilson

Instrumentalist-Horn - Terry Hanck

Koko Taylor Award - Ruthie Foster

Pinetop Perkins Piano Player - Allen Toussaint

Rock Blues Album - "Battle Scars" by Walter Trout

Song - "Gonna Live Again" written and performed by Walter Trout

Soul Blues Album - "This Time for Real" by Billy Price & Otis Clay

Soul Blues Female Artist - Bettye LaVette

Soul Blues Male Artist - Otis Clay

Traditional Blues Album - "Descendants of Hill Country" by Cedric Burnside Project

Traditional Blues Male Artist - John Primer

http://jacksonfreepress.com/users/photos/2016/may/17/25706/

May 17, 2016

JSU Opens the SWAC Baseball Tournament

By bryanflynn

Jackson State University gets to play in the opening game of the 2016 SWAC Baseball Tournament. It is going to be an early start for the Tigers, who face off against Texas Southern University at 9 a.m., Wednesday, May 18.

JSU earned the No. 2 seed in the East with a 14-10 SWAC record and 32-24 overall record. TSU is the No. 3 seed out of the West and finished with a 13-10 SWAC record and 21-25 overall.

Both teams didn’t meet in the regular season, so this matchup brings a little mystery to the tournament. This game is the first of four that will be played during the day at the MLB Urban Youth Academy's Wesley Barrow Stadium in New Orleans.

The Tigers enter the tournament as the best hitting team in the conference with a .322 average and second-best ERA at 5.31. Texas Southern is the fifth-best hitting team with a .275 average and fourth-best pitching staff with a 6.65 ERA.

JSU had six players earn All-SWAC honors at the end of the season. Shortstop Cornelius Copeland and outfielder CJ Newsome earned First-Team All-SWAC, and catcher Carlos Diaz, first baseman Jesus Santana, outfielder Bryce Brown and pitcher Miguel Yrigoyen earned Second-Team All-SWAC honors.

Texas Southern had one player on the postseason All-SWAC teams: pitcher Robert Pearson, who earned First-Team All-SWAC honors.

The winner of the opening game will play whichever team comes out on top between Arkansas-Pine Bluff University and Alabama A&M University at 3 p.m. on Thursday. The losers of both games will face each other at 9 a.m. on Thursday.

After JSU and TSU open up the tournament, the next game on May 18 will be between Alcorn State University and Grambling State University at noon.

The Braves are the No. 3 seed out of the East, having finished with a 10-14 SWAC record and 15-34 overall record. GSU is the No. 2 seed from the West after a 15-8 SWAC season and a 22-25 overall record.

Both teams played a pair of games this season. The Tigers won the first meeting 12-3 at Alcorn State, and the Braves won the second meeting 11-8 at Grambling State.

Grambling State is the third-best hitting team in the SWAC with a .290 average and the fifth-best pitching staff with a 7.12 ERA. Alcorn State is hitting .274 as a team for sixth in the SWAC and eighth in pitching with an 8.26 ERA.

ASU had one player on the postseason teams, with designated hitter Cedric Bell earning Second-Team All-SWAC honors. Meanwhile, the Tigers had six players on the Second-Team All-SWAC after the regular season.

The winner of the Alcorn State and Grambling State game plays the winner of the Alabama State University and Southern University game Thursday, May 19, at 6 p.m. The losers of the two games play at noon on Thursday.

The tournament features the top four teams from the East ...

May 17, 2016

Mississippi Democratic Party Issues Statement on Cleveland School District Desegregation

By sierramannie

From a press release from the Mississippi Democratic Party:

Jackson, MS – Following the court's order to desegregate schools in Cleveland, Mississippi, Mississippi Democratic Party spokesperson, Ouida Meruvia, issued the following statement:

"It is fitting that on the eve of the 62nd anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the court has ordered Mississippi to make a significant stride forward in achieving the ideal set forth in Brown - equality in our public school system.

"However, with the court's ruling, we're reminded that equality in our state's public education system has not been pursued 'with all deliberate speed,' but instead has been a long, hard struggle that many Mississippians have fought for, and continue to fight for, to this day.

"Democrats in Mississippi will continue our work to ensure that all students, regardless of race or zip code, will have equal access to a quality, fully-funded public education system."

Sierra Mannie is an education reporting fellow for the Jackson Free Press and The Hechinger Report. Email her at sierra@jacksonfreepress.com.

May 16, 2016

Five Finalists for C Spire Ferris Trophy Announced

By bryanflynn

Mississippi State University has dominated on the baseball diamond this season and is now dominating the list of finalists for the 2016 C Spire Ferris Trophy. The Bulldogs placed three players in the final five for the award.

The University of Mississippi and Delta State University each placed on player in the final five. The group includes three juniors, a senior and a freshman. Three of the final five are also products of Mississippi, with Florida and Tennessee providing home states for the other two.

Here are the five finalists listed by university.

Mississippi State

Dakota Hutson, junior, has been one of the best starting pitchers on a strong MSU staff. He has an 8-3 record while posting a low 2.52 ERA. The Dunlap, Tenn native has struck out 91 batters faced and walked just 27 in 89.1 innings of work and is allowing opposing teams to hit a .240 batting average.

Reid Humphreys has done just about every thing for the Bulldogs this season. He has played in the outfield, infield and pitched as well. The junior, who is from Brandon, Miss., is batting .333 with 15 doubles, five home runs and a triple. He is slugging .547 with an on-base percentage of .419. Coming out of the bullpen, Humphreys is 0-1 with a 6.05 ERA in 15 appearances. He has struck out 25 batters and walked just six in 19.1 innings of work.

Jake Mangum has had a sensational freshman season as he is hitting .405 for second best in the SEC and has nine doubles, three triples and one home run. The Pearl, Miss., native has an on-base percentage of .419 and a .547 slugging percentage.

University of Mississippi

J.B. Woodham is one of the stars in a strong season for the Rebels. The Orlando, Fla., native is batting .325 with a team leading 12 home runs, 11 doubles and 47 runs batted in. He has shined in his junior season with a .466 slugging percentage and nine assists from the outfield.

Delta State University

Will Robertson is the lone senior to be nominated but closes his career at Delta State with a strong final season for the team. He is batting .426, leading the Gulf South Conference, 27 doubles, eight home runs and 71 runs batted in. The Falkner, Miss., native is posting a .676 slugging percentage and a .492 on base percentage.

The winner will be announced at a luncheon on Monday, May 23 at the Cleveland Country Club. Scouts who cover Mississippi and college coaches choose the final five.

Fans can vote for a player at www.cspoavoting.com. Fan voting is from Tuesday until Sunday and will count for 10 percent of the voting. The other 90 percent will be made up of scouts and coaches.

Also at the luncheon will be former Rebels player and coach Jake Gibbs. The former New York Yankee will be the featured speaker at the event.

...

May 13, 2016

Can Football's Past Save Its Future?

By bryanflynn

Rugby was a precursor to American football. Soccer is also attached to early football as well, and all three games can trace their roots back to Greek and Roman games.

The first football game in America is credited to Rutgers University and Princeton University on November 6, 1869. Rutgers won the game 6-4 over Princeton.

Football began to gain popularity in the U.S., especially on the east coast, and at universities such as Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University and others. While the game grew fans, it also grew detractors.

Early football was even more violent than today’s football. In fact, punching or drop-kicking an opposing player was not against the rules. Neither were shots to the head or other moves you might see in bar fight or pro-wrestling match.

Football tried to clean itself up with rule changes from the “Father of American Football” Walter Camp. Under Camp, the game added the line of scrimmage, cut players on the field down to 11, changed the size of the field, created the downs system used today and many other advances.

While these rules helped, the game was still dangerous to play. In the early 1900s, the game came under fire to be banned for how violent it was at the time.

There are reports that upwards of 20 people died playing football in 1905. That spurred change even as then-President Teddy Roosevelt got involved because of the public outcry.

Rules were changed again, this time adding the forward pass and the formation of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association the forerunner to the NCAA. These rule changes helped make the game safer in the long run.

Fast Forward to 100 years later and there is a public outcry over the safety of football. This time about concussions.

Let’s be honest. Football, rugby, hockey and other impact sports are going to always have a risk of injury or even death. That doesn’t mean officials should stop working to make the game safer, but there will be a certain amount of risk involved in playing these sports.

While concussions are a part of rugby as well as football, there is something football could learn from rugby.

The Seattle Seahawks and other teams in both pro and college football are teaching shoulder tackling. The Seahawks have even produced two videos on how to shoulder tackle properly.

Both videos show drills that can be done with and without pads to learn to shoulder tackle. The idea is to take the head out of the game. Nothing is 100 percent effective, but it should be worth studying to see if players’ head injuries are reduced by using rugby tackling.

Seattle, like them or hate them, is one of the best tackling team in the league and one of the most physical teams as well. The changes in how they tackle haven’t affected their ability to be physical ...

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