Stories for April 2015


Thursday, April 30

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Last of James Craig Anderson's Killers Sentenced

Sentencing for the last pair of co-conspirators in one of the nation's largest ever hate-crime investigations is now under way in federal court in Jackson.

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Ontario Harper

It took a long time for Ontario Harper to get his love of basketball back. The former Mississippi State University athlete was one of the top players in the state during his senior year (1997-1998) at Clinton High.

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GOP Divided as Supreme Court Ruling on Health Care Law Nears

Sen. Ron Johnson was elected to Congress in 2010 as an adamant foe of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Yet facing a Supreme Court decision that could disrupt how that law functions, the Wisconsin Republican is among many in the GOP who want Congress to react with caution.

Baltimore Police Hand Report on Gray Death to Prosecutor

Baltimore police have completed their investigation into the death of Freddie Gray and turned over their findings to prosecutors — one day earlier than the department's self-imposed deadline, the commissioner said Thursday morning.

Thousands in Other Cities Protest Death of Baltimore Man

Thousands of people hit the streets in Baltimore and several other cities, from Boston and New York to Indianapolis and Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to protest the death of a black man who died of spinal injuries after his arrest by Baltimore police and to demand reforms to police procedures.

US Now Sees Russia Directing Ukraine's Rebels

American officials briefed on intelligence from the region say Russia has significantly deepened its command and control of the militants in eastern Ukraine in recent months, leading the U.S. to quietly introduce a new term: "combined Russian-separatist forces."

More Women and Children Freed in Nigeria from Extremists

A day after the Nigerian army celebrated the rescue of 200 girls and 93 women in the forest stronghold of Boko Haram, the army's spokesman said more women and children believed to have been abducted by the Islamic extremists were rescued as firefights broke out there.

Baltimore Officials: No Immediate Decision in Gray Case

Having weathered two all-night curfews with no major disturbances, Baltimore officials are now trying to manage growing expectations they will immediately decide whether to prosecute six police officers involved in the arrest of a black man who later died of injuries he apparently received while in custody.

Wednesday, April 29

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More to the Story

When many people think of comic books, they may think of crime fighting, flapping capes and spandex. When they think of comic-book readers, the image isn't complimentary.

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Trouble in Mississippi

Look at Mississippi under Republican grass-eater rule in both the governor's mansion and state Legislature. A lopsided tax system that favors corporations and the rich has contributed to one of the biggest income gaps between the rich and poor of any state in the country.

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Charles Graham: Hoping for Balance

The Jackson Free Press talked to Charles E. Graham about his vision for the office of secretary of state on one of his days off the campaign trail.

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Why Does the State Still Want to Kill Willie Jerome Manning?

Willie Jerome Manning has been on death row for more than two decades, facing the possibility of execution for two sets of murders that occurred about one month apart.

Australia Wary of Escalating Rift After Indonesia Executions

Australia said it would withdraw its ambassador to Indonesia after two Australians were among eight drug traffickers executed by the Southeast Asian country on Wednesday, but was wary of escalating hostilities with its neighbor despite a public outcry.

Japan PM to Make Historic Address to Congress, Talk Trade

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will seek support for a trans-Pacific trade pact that has divided U.S. lawmakers as he makes the first address by a Japanese leader to a joint meeting of Congress.

Immigrant Removals Continue to Decline Under Obama

The Obama administration is on pace to deport the fewest number of immigrants in nearly a decade, according to internal government data obtained by The Associated Press.

NASA Spacecraft to Impact Planet Mercury on Thursday

NASA's Mercury-orbiting spacecraft, Messenger, is going out with a bang this week, adding a hefty crater to the little planet closest to the sun.

Schools Reopen in Baltimore, Streets Quiet After Curfew

Schools reopened and tensions seemed to ease Wednesday after Baltimore made it through the first night of its curfew without the widespread violence many had feared.

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The Cost of Living in the Ghetto

Miss Doodle Mae: "Jojo surprised the staff today. During the monthly staff-appreciation morning meeting, he announced that all part-time and full-time staff of Jojo's Discount Dollar Store would receive a 'Cost of Living in the Ghetto' raise and a very affordable health-care plan."

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Sunjai Williams

Clinton High School senior Sunjai Williams lives her life beyond the expectations of most 18-year-olds.

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Amazing Teens 2015

Each year, the JFP highlights some of Jackson's best and brightest teens, and each year, the list grows and grows.

Mississippi Governor and Israeli Ambassador Push Trade

Leaders of Israel and Mississippi say they want to increase what is now a tiny trade between the Magnolia State and Middle Eastern nation, building an economic relationship on top of political ties.

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Does Character Really Matter?

If you're a sports fan, this weekend will be great for you. The NBA and NHL playoffs continue; the NFL Draft begins Thursday, April 30; the 141st Kentucky Derby is Saturday, May 2; and on Saturday night, there's the long-awaited boxing match between heavy-hitters Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.

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Ladies on the Gridiron

After helping plan and participate in this year's Gridiron Gals Football Clinic, Franshell Fort has a deeper grasp of what's happening on the field and enjoys games all the more.

Home Cookin’ Capsule

The NFL Draft begins Thursday, April 30, and runs through Saturday, May 2. Mississippi natives Senquez Golson (Ole Miss) and Bernardrick McKinney (Mississippi State) are slated to go in the early rounds. 

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Thirty-Five Years of Attaché

The students of Clinton High School's Attache show choir quietly take their places on the multi-tiered stage of the Hard Rock Live in Orlando, Fla. It's March 14, 2015, and they're gunning for the top spot at the FAME Orlando competition.

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Bronwynne Brent: Always Reaching

Bronwynne Brent has deep ties to the Mississippi Delta, but her music goes beyond the region's famous blues sounds, pulling together multiple strands of American roots music.

School Funding Trickery Hurts Future Generations

Believe it or not, the Mississippi Legislature's refusal to adequately fund public schools and its attempt to derail a proposed constitutional amendment to require such funding isn't about differing philosophies about how to fix the state's educational system.

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Stinker Quote of the Week: 'Salt-and-Pepper'

We can't remember too many times Barbour so loudly told fellow Republicans to embrace diversity with in its ranks, and he helped birth the divisive "southern (race) strategy" of targeting fearful white voters.

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My Generation Doesn’t Give Up Easily

All jokes aside, millennials arguably have it harder than any generation before us.

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Time for Tea

Karen Gordon wants people to take a break. Gordon understands that in many cultures, tea is not only refreshing, it's a way of life.

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It’s Complicated

My relationship with the kitchen is a somewhat complicated one. Growing up, I had a really close relationship with my grandfather, who was a bit of a gourmand. Thanks to him, my childhood included reading reams of cookbooks.

Tuesday, April 28

AP: Sen. Bernie Sanders to Run for President as a Democrat

AP sources say Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is going to run for president as a Democrat.

Obama: Too Many Troubling Police Interactions with Blacks

As National Guard troops responded to rioting in Baltimore, President Barack Obama said Tuesday there have been too many troubling police interactions with black citizens across American in what he called "a slow-rolling crisis." But he said there was no excuse for rioters to engage in senseless violence.

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City Starts Long, Slow Process of Seeking Help for Street Repairs

Even without the emergency declaration he sought, Mayor Tony Yarber's administration is moving forward with applying for state and federal money to fix Jackson's crumbling infrastructure.

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Simon Majumdar

If you've ever seen "Iron Chef America" or "Cutthroat Kitchen," you've probably seen Simon Majumdar.

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Dine and Dash, Sal & Phil's, and National Walk @ Lunch Day

The Downtown Business Association is hosting the Capitol Street Dine and Dash, an event celebrating the recent completion of new paving and landscaping work on the street and sidewalks of Capitol Street, Saturday, May 16, from 1 to 5 p.m.

National Guard Called in to Keep the Peace in Baltimore

National Guardsmen took up positions across the city and hundreds of volunteers began sweeping the streets of broken glass and other debris Tuesday, the morning after riots erupted following the funeral of a black man who died in police custody.

Obama Welcomes Abe to White House with High Ceremony

President Barack Obama pushed for closer trade ties with Japan Tuesday, hosting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the White House for a pageant-filled state visit even as he fended off critics of liberalized international commerce within his own political party.

Supreme Court Hears Historic Same-Sex Marriage Arguments

Pivotal Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy asked skeptical questions of both sides Tuesday as the high court heard historic arguments over the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Nissan Gives $500,000 to Mississippi History Museums

Nissan Motor Co. is donating $500,000 to help fund exhibits and a dining area at two Mississippi history museums being built in downtown Jackson.

Monday, April 27

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More Fallout Over MAEP Funding Court Battle

Ironically, the same cadre of Republican leaders who unilaterally pushed through 42A are lambasting Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Winston Kidd for what they say is usurping the Legislature's authority and making a decision with far-reaching consequences for the entire state.

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Vicki Slater

Vicki Slater is elevating a message of populism in her campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

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Analysis: Initiative Process Complex and Difficult to Use

A conservative group announced last week that it will try to put a term-limits amendment on the Mississippi ballot, but history shows there's a good chance the proposal will never even come up for a vote.

Pioneer for Gay Marriage Among Lawyers for High Court Cases

Five lawyers will take turns at the Supreme Court lectern Tuesday for the highly anticipated and extended arguments over same-sex marriage.

Israel Advances Plans for New Construction in East Jerusalem

Israel has given the final go-ahead for new construction in a Jewish area of east Jerusalem — the area of the city the Palestinians demand as the capital of a future state.

Thousands Expected at Monday's Funeral for Freddie Gray

Thousands were expected Monday at a funeral for a man who died after suffering serious spinal injuries while in the custody of Baltimore police.

The Latest on Nepal Quake: Stronger Quake May be Yet to Come

An engineer who works on earthquake risks says the 7.8-magnitude temblor that struck on Saturday may not be the Big One for Nepal.

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10 Local Stories of the Week

There's never a slow news week in Jackson, Miss., and last week was no exception. Here are the local stories JFP reporters brought you in case you missed them.

Saturday, April 25

Attorneys Bicker Over Appeal in School Funding Ballot Title

Attorneys are arguing over whether the Mississippi Supreme Court should second-guess a circuit judge's ruling that affects education funding proposals on the ballot this November.

Friday, April 24

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Walnut Grove Warden Defends Staff Training

Walnut Grove has cleaned up its act. That's the message from top officials with the beleaguered privately operated prison and the Mississippi Department of Corrections. It's also the reason the MDOC wants to get out from under a federal court order over conditions at the prison.

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Naomi Wilson

Naomi Wilson has performed ballet for 13 years, beginning when she was 3, and came to Ballet Mississippi in January 2013.

Armenians Around the World Mark 1915 Genocide

Around the world on Friday, tens of thousands of people of Armenian descent commemorated the genocide 100 years ago of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks.

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Bryant Vetoes Bill Called Weak on Ditching Common Core

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant on Thursday vetoed a bill that some lawmakers said would move Mississippi away from the Common Core academic standards adopted by this state and many others.

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Mississippi Abortion Clinic Seeks to Keep Blocking 2012 Law

Attorneys for Mississippi's only abortion clinic are asking the U.S. Supreme Court not to review a lower court's ruling that is keeping the clinic open.

Thursday, April 23

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Despite Emergency Snub, City Working on Infrastructure

The City of Jackson is moving ahead with plans for massive infrastructure upgrades despite the city council's snub of Mayor Tony Yarber's request for a civil-emergency proclamation earlier this week.

Wednesday, April 22

DA Dropping Charges Against Willie Jerome Manning in One Set of Murders

Prosecutors will dismiss capital murder charges against Willie Jerome Manning, 46, for the deaths of two Starkville women in 1993 as Manning continues fighting his conviction in a separate case.

Senate Panel Set to Back Fast-Track Trade Bill Obama Seeks

A Senate panel is poised to advance one of President Barack Obama's top trade initiatives despite strong opposition from labor unions and other left-leaning groups.

Hong Kong Faces Resistance with Beijing-Backed Election Plan

Hong Kong's government unveiled election reform proposals Wednesday, setting the stage for another round of confrontation with pro-democracy activists and lawmakers opposed to Beijing-mandated restrictions on candidates for the city's top job.

EU Charges Russia's Gazprom Gas Giant with Market Abuse

The European Union on Wednesday charged Russia's state-controlled Gazprom energy giant of abusing its dominant position in central and eastern EU nations in an antitrust case that will further test tense relations between Brussels and Moscow.

Privacy Advocates Seek More Openness on NSA Surveillance

As Congress considers whether to extend the life of a program that sweeps up American phone records, privacy advocates and civil liberties groups say too much about government surveillance remains secret for the public to fully evaluate the program's reach or effectiveness.

Italy: UN Presence in Niger, Sudan Can Help Migrant Crisis

Italy pressed the European Union on Wednesday to devise concrete, robust steps to stop the deadly tide of migrants on smugglers' boats in the Mediterranean, including considering military intervention against traffickers and strengthening the presence of U.N. refugee offices in countries bordering Libya and elsewhere in Africa.

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Yarber's Emergency Decree Rejected, But It Doesn't Mean a Thing

Last night's Jackson City Council meeting all but jumped the shark when an aide to Mayor Tony Yarber walked into the chamber carrying a bag full of bottled water to distribute to council members and city staff who, at that point, had been talking for about three hours.

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One Drop at a Time

Every day, I hear people calling one another out. Liberals call out conservatives, and the reverse is also true. It’s a game of gotcha, where one side tries to shame the other in the hope of winning in the court of public opinion.

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The Bible Belt by Way of Boston

Comedian Bill Burr has been just about everywhere. Everywhere except for Mississippi, that is. He's looking to correct that on "The Billy Bible Belt Tour" with a performance Monday, April 27, at Thalia Mara Hall.

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Jackson: Rankin Wastewater Plan ‘Disingenuous’

With Jackson and its citizens burdened with a $400 million consent decree to fix its sewer system, it was already going to be a tough hill to climb.

Home Cookin’ Capsule

The Mississippi Braves close out a five-game homestand Thursday, April 23, and Friday, April 24, against Chattanooga. Games start at 7 p.m.

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Recycling in Style

The arts community around the Ross Barnett Reservoir has combined the task of repurposing trash with a love for fashion in the fourth annual Project Rezway, a fashion show featuring clothing composed of at least 75 percent recyclable materials.

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Gratis Rockers

Osid Riley helps manage Comic Commander in Ridgeland and assists in various capacities at Martin's Lounge, which happens to be the site of his latest venture: Free the Local Music.

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Warm and Comforting

I like nothing more than spending time planning meals, then chopping and dicing ingredients to create them. There are times, though, when it's nice to have something less involved but equally satisfying for dinner.

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Another Side of Mother Nature

As I made my morning drive to work the other day, I recalled last spring and how I needed to get my car washed because yellow pollen and dust covered everything.

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Run for a Cause

If running more than three miles with a crowd doesn't make you happy, maybe contributing to a good cause will. Most 5Ks are held with fundraising in mind.

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Critics Blast ‘Third-Grade Gate’ Tests

Two years ago, at the urging of Gov. Phil Bryant, the Legislature passed the Literacy Based Promotion Act, but to the consternation of Democrats and other education advocates, minimal funding to implement the program came with the legislation.

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Houston Cottrell

Houston Cottrell has worked toward the honor of being a Gracie jiu-jitsu instructor, one of the most respected names in the martial art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, since childhood.

Jackson, Suburbs Must Bridge Mistrust, Reach Smart Compromise

Not even officials with the West Rankin Utility Authority, which is made up of cities along the eastern side of Pearl River, disagree that building a new wastewater treatment plant will lead to higher sewer bills for their customers.

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Punishing Children for the Sins of their Legislators

Our children have been set up to fail, based largely on lack of funding, a stalwart position of the Bryant administration.

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Resilient, Yet Scarred Five Years After the BP Oil Spill, the Gulf’s Ecology Fights to Bounce Back

The aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon spill is about much more than shimmering blue and emerald water. And it's not as pretty a picture—nor is it as clear.

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Jelani Barr: Unconventional Thinking

In a political environment filled with law-school grads and long-in-the-tooth politicians, Jelani Barr's bid for the Capitol might seem like a long shot, but the underdog has been driving across the state explaining why he believes Mississippi needs a common man representing them.

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What I Don’t Need from Men

What exactly is a "consciously awake woman," and why exactly do you want to be one? The writer, Kelly Marceau, says the key to being consciously awake is self-awareness.

Tuesday, April 21

Hinds Public Defenders: Judge Weill Setting a Bad Precedent in Barring Attorney

Assistant Hinds County Public Defender Alison Kelly says Judge Jeff Weill's charges are "extreme."

Obama AG Nominee Loretta Lynch Heads for Vote After 5 Months

President Barack Obama's long-stalled nominee for attorney general, federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch, is on her way to a confirmation vote after senators extricated themselves Tuesday from a partisan dispute over abortion that had stood in her way.

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Euphus Ruth

Photographer Euphus Ruth uses an early photographic process called collodion to produce art with a vintage aesthetic.

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State Fights Execution Drug Disclosure While Compensating Wrongfully Convicted

At the same time the State of Mississippi continues fighting the release of details about where it gets drugs used in executions, Mississippi taxpayers will have to compensate people wrongfully convicted and incarcerated, including several who were sentenced to death.

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New Pizza Joints for Jackson, Cold Drip Coffee and Jackson Zoo Endowment Fund

This year's Best of Jackson winner for Best Local Pizza and Best Hangover Food, The Pizza Shack, has seen one store close and a few more open over the past month.

Oklahoma Reserve Deputy Pleads Not Guilty in Fatal Shooting

A 73-year-old Oklahoma reserve deputy who fatally shot a suspect who was pinned down by officers on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to a second-degree manslaughter charge.

UNHCR: Weekend Shipwreck Deadliest Ever in Mediterranean

The United Nations refugee agency said Tuesday that it believes more than 800 people drowned when a boat packed with migrants trying to reach Europe sank on Saturday, making it the worst such incident ever in the Mediterranean.

Court Sentences Ousted Egypt President to 20 Years in Prison

An Egyptian criminal court on Tuesday sentenced ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi to 20 years in prison on charges linked to the killing of protesters in 2012, the first verdict to be issued against the country's first freely elected leader.

Lawyer: No Answer on Why Man Who Died in Custody was Stopped

The lawyer for the family of Freddie Gray, a black man who died of spinal injuries during an arrest in Baltimore, said he believes the police had no reason to stop the man in the first place.

Suit Says Mississippi Lethal Injections are Unconstitutional

Two Mississippi prisoners condemned to death are challenging the legality of the state's lethal injection procedures.

Monday, April 20

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Conservative PAC Wants Term Limits

The United Conservatives Fund today said the group has filed documents with the secretary of state's office to start the process to limit how long some Mississippi officials can serve in office.

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Dr. Mary Elizabeth Hawkins

Dr. Mary Elizabeth Hawkins, a co-founder of Woman's Hospital (now Merit Health Woman's Hospital), passed away on April 7, 2015, at her home in Flora.

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10 Local Stories of the Week

There's never a slow news week in Jackson, Miss., and last week was no exception. Here are the local stories JFP reporters brought you in case you missed them.

Saturday, April 18

Deadlines Set in Dispute Over School Funding Initiatives

Attorneys have until next week to submit arguments in a legal dispute about school funding initiatives on the November ballot. The Mississippi Supreme Court on Friday set an April 24 deadline for attorneys to file briefs about whether justices should hear an appeal from legislative leaders.

Friday, April 17

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Uncertainty About 3rd Grade Gate Standards Frustrates School Officials

With testing for the so-called 3rd grade reading gate—which requires students to pass a literacy test before moving to the next grade—now under way around the state, some public school leaders say they're frustrated because they haven't been told what a passing grade is for the test.

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Glenn Boyce

The College Board is naming former Holmes County Community College President Glenn Boyce as permanent state higher education commissioner.

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Miss. State Jerseys Diss Ole Miss, Draw Apologies

Mississippi State's athletic director and Adidas have apologized for an obscene phrase on one of the baseball team's practice jerseys.

G-20 Finance Officials Confronting Global Weakness

Finance officials from the world's major economies are searching for the right mix of policies to bolster a still-weak global recovery nearly six years after the Great Recession while confronting a range of new threats from a soaring U.S. dollar to a big drop in oil prices.

Obama, Italian Prime Minister Renzi to Meet at White House

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is set to meet with President Barack Obama. Obama is hosting Renzi at the White House on Friday to compare notes on a range of issues, including Ukraine, Libya and Islamic State militants.

Federal Appeals Court to Take Up Obama's Immigration Action

As demonstrators gathered Friday outside a New Orleans federal courthouse, appellate judges were preparing to consider whether to lift a temporary hold imposed by a federal judge in Texas on President Barack Obama's executive action seeking to shield millions of immigrants from deportation.

Mississippi Chooses Minnesota Company for Standardized Tests

Minnesota-based Questar Assessment will provide most of the standardized tests for Mississippi beginning next year.

Thursday, April 16

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Supreme Court: Stallworth Does Not Have to Register as a Sex Offender

The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled today that a Jackson pastor, who was convicted of a sex crime in another state but had the conviction expunged, does not have to register as a sex offender in Mississippi.

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Jeb Bush on Hand for Special Needs Bill Signing

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush attended Senate Bill 2695's signing at the Capitol. The Mississippi program is based on one created in Florida under Gov. Bush, a Republican preparing to run for president.

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Anthony Alford

When Anthony Alford signed with Southern Miss after leading the Petal High School Panthers to the 6-A title during his senior season, it was a major recruiting coup.

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Jackson Wants Hearing on Rankin Wastewater Plan

The City of Jackson will ask state regulators for a formal evidentiary hearing to contest the approval of a wastewater treatment plant in west Rankin County.

Search Area for Flight 370 to be Doubled if Plane Not Found

The search area for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 will be expanded by another 60,000 square kilometers (23,000 square miles) in the Indian Ocean if the jetliner is not found by May, officials said Thursday, affirming their commitment to not give up until it is located.

Australia Will Soon Pay Refugees to Resettle in Cambodia

Refugees from Africa, the Middle East and South Asia who are being held on the Pacific atoll of Nauru after being rejected by Australia could soon be paid to resettle in impoverished Cambodia in an arrangement by the Australian government that has been condemned by human rights activists as inhumane and potentially dangerous.

USDA to Propose Standards for Organic Seafood Raised in US

After more than a decade of delays, the government is moving toward allowing the sale of U.S.-raised organic fish and shellfish. But don't expect it in the grocery store anytime soon.

Mississippi Law Could Expand Services for People with Autism

A new Mississippi law is designed to help people like the Johnstons as they try to help children with autism spectrum disorder, Gov. Phil Bryant said during a news conference Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 15

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On the (Food) Scene

The Jackson area's restaurant scene seems to grow every time you look, and the last few months have been no exception. Here are some of the new local food and drink offerings in the metro area.

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New Places to Chill

Jackson had an icy winter, but it isn't quite over yet because a new kind of ice is coming to town, and it's a good kind. Just in time for warm weather, two ice-pop vendors are making their debut in Fondren and Belhaven.

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Gathering 'Round the (Ethnic) Kitchen

Though Jackson is not New York City, it does have plenty to offer in its variety of ethnic restaurants. If you want to try your hand at cooking different foods, the metro area also offers several ethnic grocery stores. Here are some of the ones in Jackson.

Stop Taxing Schools With Underfunding

Because JPS's budget comes from City of Jackson millage rates, local property taxpayers are ultimately on the hook if the district needs to increase its budget request due to insufficient funding.

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Stinker Quote of the Week: 'One'

In a rare show of unity between Reeves and Gov. Phil Bryant, the GOP leadership teamed up to criticize the move by Kidd, to whom they repeatedly referred as a Hinds County judge.

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Shot in the Back

Mr. Announcer: "In the ghetto criminal-justice system, the people are represented by members of the newly established Ghetto Science Community Peace Keeping Unit."

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No Wine-ing

The Jackson Free Press has its annual beer tasting around summer, and we enjoy it a lot. However, for the spring food issue, we decided to try something a little different.

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Following the Bass and Blues

As a female bassist, Nellie McInnis, known to fans of her music as Nellie Mack, gained extra attention while on a tour with a band called Sonic Funk, Inc., but she also realized that her bass education wasn't complete.

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Analysis: Democrats Disappointed for the Children

Whether this past session of the Mississippi Legislature was successful depends largely on which party a lawmaker belonged to.

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Court Spat Ensnares Defendants, Taxpayers

The list of cases Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Jeff Weill has taken from the county public defender's office and assigned to private attorneys has swelled to more than 60 and keeps growing.

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Shorting MAEP Basically a Tax Hike

Dr. Cedrick Gray, the superintendent of Jackson Public Schools, seems to be proving tight-fisted Mississippi lawmakers right when they say it doesn't necessarily take throwing money at schools to improve education.

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Kila Milner

For Kila Milner, 34, a career in the restaurant industry lets her combine work she loves with her passion for Jackson, a combination that she says is a win-win.

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Sarah Thomas Keeps Breaking New Ground

For Sarah Thomas, being the first full-time female NFL game official, hired April 8, doesn't bring any new pressure for someone who has had many firsts as a woman in a male-dominated profession.

Home Cookin’ Capsule

Pascagoula native Sarah Thomas became the first full-time female NFL game official in league history on April 8.

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Eyes on Bill Minor

If we measured marathons in years instead of miles, journalist Wilson "Bill" Minor would be 10 years away from completing his third reporting marathon in Mississippi.

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Don’t Be That Guy

I recently found myself in a situation that left me not only coming up with better responses after the fact but also made me reflect on its deeper implications of what sort of behavior I'm willing to tolerate or excuse.

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Woman, Be Free

pain doesn't stop hurting because you stop thinking about it. It will not go away because you've retreated into yourself. Pain is only released through freedom.

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Creating Better People

It's hard to watch a grown man cry. It's even harder to see a distinguished judge break down in front of an audience decades after a white teacher lied about his actions and got him more than 20 hard licks from his principal.

Tuesday, April 14

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Proposed Capitol Street Lofts Get Tax Credits

Plans to spruce up what many people consider to be an eyesore across from the King Edward are finally a go.

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Report: Mississippi Among Worst Bang for Tax Bucks

A new report out today from financial-information website WalletHub shows that Mississippi taxpayers, the nation's poorest, don't get very much for what they do spend on taxes.

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New Chef at Anjou, SBA Small Business Awards and Mississippi Nutrition Program

Anjou Restaurant (361 Township Ave., Ridgeland) proprietor Anne Amelot-Holmes recently brought a familiar face into her restaurant's kitchen: her father, Christian Amelot.

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Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven, the classical composer, is deeply engrained into our culture. His famous "Fifth Symphony" is so recognizable that it ranks up there with "Happy Birthday to You" in music almost everyone knows.

Obama Offers Iraq $200M in Humanitarian Aid

President Barack Obama pledged $200 million in humanitarian aid to Iraq Tuesday to help those displaced by Islamic State militants, an offer of assistance that appeared to fall short of the Iraqi prime minister's request for greater military support.

Reserve Deputy Turns Himself in to Face Manslaughter Charge

A 73-year-old Oklahoma reserve sheriff's deputy who authorities said fatally shot a suspect after confusing his stun gun and handgun was booked into the county jail Tuesday on a manslaughter charge.

Nigeria: 1 Year After Kidnap of Girl Students, Hope Dwindles

They have been gone a year now, the hundreds of girls abducted by Islamic militants from their school in northeastern Nigeria. And while the cry to "Bring Back Our Girls" remains a worldwide cause, the country's next leader is not making the promise that his predecessor did — that they will be brought home.

Hamas Consolidates its Grip on Gaza as Reconstruction Stalls

Eight months after a ruinous war with Israel, the reconstruction of Gaza has barely begun, and the Islamic militant group Hamas remains entrenched despite expectations that it cede some of its power to West Bank-based Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Iraq's Al-Abadi Making In-Person Appeal to Obama for Help

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is making an in-person appeal to President Barack Obama on Tuesday for more help defeating the Islamic State militants, hoping recent gains in the fight will encourage more investment from a war-weary United States.

Senate Committee to Challenge Obama with Vote on Iran Bill

In a direct challenge to the White House, a Senate committee is to vote on a bill that would give Congress a chance to weigh in on any final nuclear agreement that can be reached with Iran.

New Rules Proposed as 5-Year Anniversary of Oil Spill Nears

A week shy of the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Obama administration proposed new regulations Monday aimed at strengthening oversight of offshore oil drilling equipment and ensuring that out-of-control wells can be sealed in an emergency.

Monday, April 13

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JPS Progress Report Good, Still Low Marks for MAEP Funding

Despite legislative budget writers shortchanging them, along with every other school district in the state, Jackson Public Schools are showing improvement in several areas.

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Elise Varner Winter

Volunteer Mississippi, in coordination with the Office of the Governor and First Lady Deborah Bryant, recognized former First Lady Elise Varner Winter for her outstanding volunteer service efforts at the 2015 Governor's Initiative for Volunteer Excellence Awards.

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Upon Further Review: Inside the Police Failure to Stop Darren Sharper's Rape Spree

Darren Sharper's rampage of druggings and rapes could have been prevented, according to a two-month investigation by ProPublica and The New Orleans Advocate based on police records in five states, hundreds of pages of court documents and dozens of interviews across the country.

Russia Lifts Ban on Delivery of S-300 Missiles to Iran

President Vladimir Putin on Monday lifted the ban on Russia's delivery of a sophisticated air defense missile system to Iran, the Kremlin said.

Sharpton Praises Response to Fatal SC Police Shooting

Demonstrators in the North Charleston area say they will press local officials for broader civilian oversight of the city's police force after the shooting death of Walter Scott.

Holocaust Remembrance Day to be Honored with Play Readings

Celebrities including Kathleen Turner and Ellen Burstyn will honor Holocaust Remembrance Day on Monday by reading plays that deal with that dark time in history.

Saturday, April 11

Judge Appointed to Assist Youth Courts Statewide

Former Adams County Youth Court Judge John N. Hudson is assisting juvenile courts across Mississippi with abused, neglected and delinquent children.

Friday, April 10

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A Special Session for Police Body Cameras?

In recent years, special sessions of the Legislature have been used to cut deals on pet projects of the governor—typically some form of corporate tax giveaway to lure a potential employer.

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David Rae Morris

In the time I've known him, David Rae Morris has turned himself into an accomplished filmmaker who makes places and people in our state come alive in a way I know his father would have cherished.

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Fitness from the Page

Jackson-based public health practitioner and advocate Getty Israel might be a newcomer to long-form writing, but in many ways, her first book has been in the works since she was just a girl.

Ambassador: US Handed Cambodia to 'Butcher' 40 Years Ago

Forty years later, John Gunther Dean recalls one of the most tragic days of his life — April 12, 1975, the day the United States "abandoned Cambodia and handed it over to the butcher."

US Plans for Anti-Islamic State Training Drawing Skepticism

The fight against the Islamic State group received a jolt of energy when the United States and Turkey sealed a pact to train and arm Syrian rebels. Two months later, the program faces delays and skepticism — as Turkish officials, Syrian rebels and even former American advisers openly question whether it can ever have any battlefield impact.

Hillary Clinton to Announce Presidential Campaign on Sunday

Hillary Rodham Clinton will end months of speculation about her political future and launch her long-awaited 2016 presidential campaign on Sunday, according to people familiar with her plans.

Thursday, April 9

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2 Women to be Sentenced in Slaying of Mississippi Black Man

Two young white women, part of a group who repeatedly searched Mississippi's capital city for black people to attack, are scheduled to be sentenced Thursday.

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James Alexander Warren

A few names come up whenever Jacksonians discuss local filmmakers, but few are as common as James Alexander Warren.

VA Makes Little Headway in Fight to Shorten Waits for Care

A year after Americans recoiled at new revelations that sick veterans were getting sicker while languishing on waiting lists — and months after the Department of Veterans Affairs instituted major reforms — government data shows that the number of patients facing long waits at VA facilities has not dropped at all.

Officer Who Shot Man Had Prior Excessive Force Complaint

The white South Carolina police officer charged with murder for shooting an unarmed black man in the back was allowed to stay on the force despite a 2013 complaint that he used excessive force against another unarmed black man.

French Network's Broadcasts Hacked by Group Claiming IS Ties

Hackers claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group seized control of a global French television network, simultaneously blacking out 11 channels and taking over the network's website and social media accounts.

Dollar May be Next Screw for US to Tighten on North Korea

A bill now making its way through the U.S. Congress — and being watched closely in Pyongyang — is designed to shut off North Korea, and anyone who deals with it, from the U.S. dollar.

Baltimore Police Often Surveil Cellphones Amid US Secrecy

The Baltimore Police Department has an agreement with the U.S. government to withhold certain information about secretive cellphone surveillance technology from the public and even the courts, according to a confidential agreement obtained by The Associated Press. On Wednesday, the department disclosed it has used the technology thousands of times since 2007.

Family of Man Found Hanging in Mississippi Wants Information

Lawyers hired by the family of a black man who was found hanging in Mississippi said Wednesday that they are hiring independent experts, including a high-profile forensic pathologist, to conduct an investigation separate from the one pursued by state and federal authorities.

Wednesday, April 8

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2015 Crossroads Film Festival

This year, the Crossroads Film Festival celebrates 16 years of providing Jacksonians with a creative, cultural and cinematic outlet. The festival, held at the Malco Grandview Cinema, features films from all over the world, including some from right here in Mississippi.

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The Mississippi Braves Are Back

Spring is in full effect, and as college basketball ends and the NBA and NHL move toward their playoffs, MLB celebrates its opening week. Baseball returns each summer, serving as the buffer between basketball and football.

Home Cookin’ Capsule

Pro baseball is back. The Mississippi Braves will open the 2015 baseball season against the Tennessee Smokies April 9-13 at Trustmark Park (1 Braves Way, Pearl).

Report: Iran Sends Navy Vessels Near Yemen Amid Airstrikes

Iran dispatched a naval destroyer and another vessel Wednesday to waters near Yemen as the United States quickened weapons supply to the Saudi-led coalition striking rebels there, underlining how foreign powers are deepening their involvement in the conflict.

White SC Officer Charged with Murder in Black Man's Death

Dramatic video that shows a white South Carolina police officer shooting a fleeing black man after a traffic stop has led authorities to file a murder charge against the officer amid public outrage over a series of deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of law enforcement agents.

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You Are Welcome Here

My job at HRC Mississippi is to work with others to create a state where everyone is welcome. Or to put it this way, that the "hospitality state" truly embodies its nickname.

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Jumpstarting Mississippi Jazz

When Jackson bassist Raphael Semmes and Tripp Douglas, who is the owner of Fusion Coffeehouse (1111 Highland Colony Pkwy., Suite A, Ridgeland), created the Fusion Jazz Series 10 years ago, they had a bit of an agenda.

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It’s Time to Question Vaccinations

Immunization is one of the greatest public-health achievements in the 20th century, but as with all medications, vaccines can harm. We should be asking why some children experience severe reactions, while most in society do not.

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MDOC, Private Prisons on Trial

Located in Leake County, Walnut Grove opened in 2001 for children convicted as adults in criminal court, and has been the subject of nearly ongoing scrutiny for civil-rights violations.

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Legal Pot Initiative Gets a Spark

Despite the hard work of dozens of Mississippi volunteers and shifting national tide toward loosening restrictions on marijuana, a state ballot initiative to legalize cannabis is just hobbling along.

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Energy for Brunching

While store-bought granola can have many added sugars, homemade granola can be much healthier for you, with nuts, grains and dried fruits—all good stuff.

State’s Film Incentives Should Focus on Local Workforce

There is no doubt that the state's film incentives have revolutionized the movie industry in Mississippi.

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Mississippi Needs to Embrace Voting Reforms

Mississippi ought to send a positive message to the country and embrace voting reforms that make our state better.

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Crossroads = Creativity

I and other writers, including Genevieve Legacy, Richard Coupe, Ronni Mott and R.L. Nave contributed to this cover package, reviewing films that cover everything from Depression-era Mississippi, to a wandering rabbi, to the Motor Vessel Mary Parker.

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Get Behind The Mule

Southern-rock jam band Gov't Mule has been a staple of the American live-music scene since forming in the early '90s, playing more than 100 shows a year.

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Lou’s Full Serv: Energizing Southern Staples

Since its inception in March 2014, Lou's Full-Serv Neighborhood Kitchen has made itself into an eclectic hideaway tucked in a quiet corner of a district where faces are familiar and everyone has a recipe for shrimp and grits.

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Laughter in Awkwardness

Plenty of people know Tig Notaro, even if they don't remember from where. The comedian has appeared on a number of primetime television series, including "The Office," "Community" and "Bob's Burgers."

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Tom Beck

Tom Beck has a passion for storytelling. It's one of the factors that drives his work at Spot On Productions, LLC, which he founded with business partner Philip Scarborough in 2011.

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Anywhere, USA: The State of Film in Mississippi

As Ward Emling walks through downtown Jackson, his daydreams transport him to 1840. The "Old" Capitol Museum on State Street is still brand new, and politicians clamor inside about the future of antebellum Mississippi.

Tuesday, April 7

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Yarber Wants Another Emergency Declaration

After asking the Jackson City Council to hold off on approving his civil-emergency declaration earlier, Yarber said Tuesday evening that he wants a second emergency proclamation.

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Big Tests for New JRA Members, Google Lawsuit Blocked, Boosting Youth-Owned Biz

Six months after Mayor Tony Yarber first introduced a slate of nominees for the Jackson Redevelopment Authority, the Jackson City Council approved four new JRA members at a special council meeting Monday.

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Alex Melnick

Alex Melnick and other members of art advocacy organization Ko'ox Boon, which is Mayan for "Let's paint," will present the documentary film "The Barefoot Artist" tonight, April 7, at Millsaps College (1701 N. State St., 601-974-1000).

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Conservationists: 'One Lake' Endangers Pearl River

A conservation group has declared the Pearl River one of the Top 10 Endangered Rivers for 2015 because a dam project proposed south of Jackson might threaten areas of the river downstream.

Closing Arguments Begin in Trial of Ex-NFLer Aaron Hernandez

A lawyer for former New England Patriots star tight end Aaron Hernandez told jurors on Tuesday that there is only one possible and lawful verdict in his client's murder trial: not guilty.

Iraqi Teams Start Exhuming Mass Grave of Soldiers in Tikrit

Iraqi forensic teams in the newly recaptured city of Tikrit have started exhuming bodies from mass graves believed to contain some of the hundreds of soldiers killed by Islamic State militants last year, a government spokesman said Tuesday.

Kenyan Students Protest School Killings, Urge More Security

Hundreds of Kenyan students marched through downtown Nairobi on Tuesday to honor those who died in an attack on a college by Islamic militants and to press the government for better security in the wake of the slaughter.

Jurors Begin Deliberating Charges Against Marathon Bomber

Jurors in the federal death penalty trial of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev began deliberations Tuesday, a day after both prosecutors and his lawyers told them Tsarnaev must be held accountable for participating in the terror attack.

Guard Dedicates New Barracks for Fallen Soldiers

The Mississippi National Guard officials will name four new barracks at Camp Shelby in honor of soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Monday, April 6

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County Might Not Pay for Private Lawyers in Weill, Public Defender Dispute

The Hinds County Board of Supervisors may refuse to pay private attorneys a county judge appointed because of a spat with the public defender's office.

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Analysis: 2015 Session was About Modest Changes, Not Big

Facing pressure from conservatives who distrust the Common Core academic standards that Mississippi and most other states adopted in recent years, state legislators voted to create a 15-member commission to examine what schools should teach.

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Col. Gregory Scott Michel

Col. Gregory Scott Michel of McComb will assume command this week of Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center.

Death Penalty Hearing for Man Charged with Killing 3 Muslims

The man accused of killing three North Carolina college students — their family says because they were Muslim — is scheduled to appear in court for a hearing Monday to determine whether he could face the death penalty.

Ordinary Folk Take Up Military Training Over Russia Threat

NATO aircraft scream across eastern European skies and American armored vehicles rumble near the border with Russia on a mission to reassure citizens that they're safe from Russian aggression.

2 Protests in Town Where Man Found Hanging in Tree

Two weekend gatherings at the Claiborne County Courthouse called for action in the death of Otis Byrd, a man reported missing early in March and found March 19, hanging from a tree.

Rand Paul and 2016: A Message of Change, Delivered Deadpan

Ready to enter the chase for the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday, first-term Kentucky senator Rand Paul has designs on changing how members of his party go about getting elected to the White House and how they govern once they get there.

Clinton to Start 2016 Bid with Focus on Voter Interaction

Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to launch her campaign for president sometime in the next two weeks and will initially focus on intimate events, rather than soaring speeches to big rallies, as her team looks to put her in direct contact with voters in states with early primaries or caucuses.

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10 Local Stories of the Week

There's never a slow news week in Jackson, Miss., and last week was no exception. Here are the local stories JFP reporters brought you in case you missed them.

Friday, April 3

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Dr. Jim Borsig

Over the past several days, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning and Dr. Dan Jones made a good faith effort regarding Dr. Jones' continued service as Chancellor of the University of Mississippi.

Hundreds of Fishermen Rescued Amid Indonesian Slavery Probe

Hundreds of fishermen raced to be rescued Friday from the isolated Indonesian island where an Associated Press investigation found that many were enslaved to catch seafood that could end up in the United States and elsewhere.

Commitments Made, Iran and 6 Powers Face Tough Nuke Talks

With one phase of nuclear talks over, Iran and six world powers now have an ambitious to-do list that—if implemented—will cut significantly into Iran's bomb-capable technology while giving Tehran quick access to bank accounts, oil markets and other financial assets blocked by international sanctions.

Thursday, April 2

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Dan Jones Rejects Offer to Extend Ole Miss Contract

Ole Miss chancellor refuses offer to extend contract.

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How One Mom Beat the Legislature on Schools Funding

A Mississippi mother of two took on the state Legislature Thursday in a battle over school funding. She won.

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John Rocker

It was John Rocker's mouth, not his arm, that was most memorable about his time with the Atlanta Braves. His quotes to Sports Illustrated in December 1999 caused a backlash and a public-relations nightmare.

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Advocates Seek Prison Changes as State Seeks Case Dismissal

Attorneys for the state of Mississippi argued in federal court Wednesday that steps have been taken to end inmate-on-inmate violence at a prison in Leake County.

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4 Men Escape Downtown Jail, Search Ongoing

This morning's escape of four men from the downtown Jackson Detention Center came just days after members of the Jackson City Council discussed the city building its own jail.

What Americans Think About Gay Rights and Religious Liberty

Most Americans support allowing businesses to refuse wedding-related services to same-sex couples on religious grounds, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll conducted earlier this year. But another recent poll suggests Americans' sympathy for religious objectors may be limited to just that — wedding-related businesses.

Airbnb Offers Cuba Lodgings in Major US Business Expansion

The popular online home-rental service Airbnb is allowing American travelers to book lodging in Cuba starting Thursday in the most significant U.S. business expansion on the island since the declaration of detente between the two countries late last year.

Indiana Unveils Changes to Religion Bill; Arkansas in Flux

Indiana lawmakers on Thursday announced changes they plan to make to the state's new religious-objections law aimed at quelling widespread criticism from businesses and others who have called the proposal anti-gay.

Mississippi Legislature Ends Session as House Adjourns

The Mississippi Legislature has ended its three-month 2015 session. The House wrapped up its final pieces of business during a short meeting Thursday, a day after the Senate finished its work and went home.

Mississippi Senate Ends Its Part of 2015 Session

The Mississippi Senate has ended its part of the 2015 legislative session.

Wednesday, April 1

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Troubled Water, Part II: The Origins of Jackson's $91 Million Siemens Contract

Nearly two months have passed since City of Jackson Department of Public Works Director Kishia Powell brought the water-meter installation project, the centerpiece of the City's $91 million contract with Siemens, to a grinding halt over concerns about quality control.

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Chasing Perfection

Just two games separate the 2014-2015 University of Kentucky Wildcats from immortality, and just three teams stand in the Wildcats' way from joining eight others who had a perfect season.

Indiana Debate Exposes Republican Divisions

As the backlash intensifies over a so-called religious freedom law in Indiana, the GOP's leading White House contenders have been drawn into a messy clash that highlights the party's strong opposition to same-sex marriage and threatens to inject social issues into the early stages of the 2016 presidential primary season.

Israeli Leader Says World Needs 'Better Deal' with Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday made a last-ditch appeal for world powers to call off an emerging nuclear agreement with Iran, saying the world must insist on a "better deal" that links concessions to a change in Tehran's behavior.

Iraq Declares Victory Over Islamic State Group in Tikrit

Iraq declared a "magnificent victory" Wednesday over the Islamic State group in Tikrit, a key step in driving the militants out of their biggest strongholds.

Obama Signs Order Creating New Cyber Sanctions Program

President Barack Obama on Wednesday created the first-ever sanctions program to penalize overseas hackers who engage in cyber spying and companies that knowingly benefit from the fruits of that espionage, potentially including state-owned corporations in Russia and China.

City Needs to Be Proactive, Not Dramatic

If there's anything Jackson doesn't need to continue, it's needing to panic at the 11th hour before the city administration and others weren't more proactive in fixing and planning for problems before they became a crisis.

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Mississippi’s Money Dance

Mississippi lawmakers voted Monday to borrow $450 million for a range of needs. As usual, there's very little for the city of Jackson's legislative agenda, which included funding for public-safety, payment-in-lieu of taxes for state buildings and other requests.

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Emergency Declaration: Necessary or Nah?

Liz Sharlot, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Health, said Mississippi cities do not necessarily need to sign an emergency declaration to apply for one of the low-interest MSDH loans. Rather, the city must work with an engineer to develop a plan before applying.

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Back to Stevie J Blues

Jackson-native blues and soul artist Stephen Johnson decided to clear his name—or at least to clarify it—about two years ago.

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Bringing Art to Life

On April 10, attendees at the Mississippi Museum of Art's 2015 spring benefit may experience a sense of deja vu as they take in the sights and sounds.

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Sitting at the Chef’s Table

Ordering the same thing at your favorite restaurant can get old fast. That's why I was excited to learn about a new offering at the Fairview Inn's 1908 Provisions: the Chef's Table.

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Diving Into Love

Two years ago, Brad Regan considered himself to be a player. No one could have told him that he would fall in love with Hannah
 Acey, whom he met in October 2013. Neither of them was looking for love; they feel as though it just fell into their laps.

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An Open Letter to Our Teachers

I don't doubt for a second that there are bad teachers who just show up to collect a paycheck, but I can't recall ever having a teacher who I didn't believe cared deeply for all their students.

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Black Folk Do ... Make Films

This year, I am returning to launch the Independent Black Film Collective, an organization that aims to bring more diversity within the film-festival community.

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Of ‘Scandal,’ ‘Empire’ and Hot Chicken Wings

Big Roscoe: "Little Momma Roscoe conducted a Clubb Chicken Wing customer survey during last week's Hot Wing Happy Hour. Our customers, who are fans of television shows like 'Empire,' suggested that Clubb Chicken Wing have a weekly big flat-screen television viewing party and Hot Wing Happy Hour.

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Stinker Quote of the Week: 'Plan'

We're not sure the Yarber does have a plan. For one, he made the announcement during a regularly scheduled media briefing and, apparently, didn't give the city council a heads up before his press conference.

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Lost Grocery, Lost Opportunity

Sociologists and the community activists who rallied to keep the Terry Road Kroger open have a phrase for the phenomenon that could befall the neighborhood that formerly housed the Kroger: food deserts.

Group Could Recommend New Academic Standards in Mississippi

A bill headed to Gov. Phil Bryant would establish a group to study whether Mississippi should modify or walk away from Common Core academic standards.

Home Cookin’ Capsule

Lanier High School great and Dallas Mavericks player Monta Ellis' streak of 237 consecutive NBA games played ended March 29, after a calf injury during a game against the San Antonio Spurs.

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Obamacare: Five Years and Counting

With Bryant's vow to undermine the ACA, the feds concluded that a state-run exchange was untenable. In January 2013, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius turned down Mississippi's application to run its own exchange, the only state she denied.