Stories for August 2015


Monday, August 31

Senate Panel Denies School Funding Group's Records Request

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves' email and other correspondence are not public records that are subject to disclosure, the Mississippi Senate Rules Committee said Monday.

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City Mulls Siemens Contract Amendment

City officials recently announced that upgrades to the city's water system, which cost $25 million, are complete.

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Analysis: Detailed State Agency Budgets Available Online

The Legislative Budget Office now provides information on the budget process, spending requests and budget terminology.

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Spanky the Otter

The Jackson Zoo has a new creature on the block: Spanky, a 1-year-old male North American river otter. He arrived in May and recently made his otter exhibit debut.

Alaska-Bound, Obama Renames America's Tallest Peak

Ahead of a historic trip to the Arctic, President Barack Obama erased a former Republican president's name from North America's tallest peak in a move applauded in Alaska and derided more than 3,000 miles away in Ohio.

Syrian Official: Amount of Damage at Palmyra Temple Unclear

A Syrian official in charge of antiquities said Monday his government has not been able to determine how much damage an explosion near the ancient Temple of Bel caused the ancient structure in the militant-controlled city of Palmyra.

Naked, Body-Painted Bicyclists Ride Through Philadelphia

Thousands of bicyclists in various stages of undress have pedaled their way around the city to promote fuel conservation and positive body image.

Suspect in Ambush of Houston-Area Deputy Due in Court

A man charged with capital murder in the fatal shooting of a uniformed suburban Houston sheriff's deputy had a lengthy criminal record going back a decade, but never spent more than short stints in jail.

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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, August 29

Judge is Asked to Block Ban on Adoption by Gay Couples

Four lesbian couples are asking a federal judge to immediately stop Mississippi from enforcing a law that bans same-sex couples from adopting or taking children into foster care.

Friday, August 28

Media: Stop Vilifying Black Teens, Explore Roots of Crime

One doesn’t wake up and become a criminal, nor is one born a criminal; something happens that pushes a young person toward it.

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HRC Training an Army for Miss. Equality

HRC Mississippi is hosting its first equality summit this weekend in Jackson, which aims to increase visibility and engagement for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality.

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Yarber: No Tax Hike in Revised Budget, Furloughs Still on the Table

When Mayor Tony Yarber submits the second draft of his budget proposal to the Jackson City Council next week, the plan will not include an 8-percent tax increase.

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Activists Pursue Private Abortion Details Using Public Records Laws

Increasingly, abortion opponents are pursuing personal and medical information on women undergoing abortions and the doctors who perform them.

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Chief Phyliss J. Anderson

Chief Phyliss J. Anderson has been re-elected chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

Pentagon Funding New High-Tech Venture

Defense Secretary Ash Carter will announce Friday that the Pentagon is funding a new venture to develop cutting-edge electronics and sensors that can flex and stretch and could be built into clothing or the skins of ships and aircraft.

N. Korea Leader Dismisses Top Officials After Standoff Eases

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has dismissed top officials in the wake of a recent standoff with South Korea, state media reported Friday, a move that suggests the young leader holds them responsible for allowing the confrontation to nearly spin out of control.

Events Mark Emmett Till Slaying 60 Years Later

Sixty years after a black Chicago teenager was killed for whistling at a white woman in Mississippi, relatives and civil rights activists are holding church services and a movie screening to remember Emmett Till.

Thursday, August 27

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MSU: No Shots Fired, No Gun Found After 'Credible Threat' Alert

Mississippi State University officials say one man has been arrested after the school received a "credible threat" that led them to issue an alert for an active shooter.

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Tori Bowie

Former USM sprinter Tori Bowie has gone from tiny Sandhill, Miss., to challenging the best women sprinters for the top spot.

MSU 'Shooter' in Custody, Schools on Lockdown

What was described as an 'active shooter' at Mississippi State University is in custody, according to the school's official Twitter feed for emergency and advisory information.

Wal-Mart to Stop Selling AR-15s and Similar Weapons

Wal-Mart will stop selling the AR-15 rifle and other semi-automatic weapons at its stores because fewer people are buying them, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Emotional Newscast After Shooting that Shocked Millions

One day after the on-air killings of reporter and a cameraman shocked millions across the country, the grieving staff at WDBJ-TV came together Thursday for an emotional broadcast of its "Mornin'" show.

AP Sues Over Access to FBI Records Involving Fake News Story

The Associated Press sued the U.S. Department of Justice Thursday over the FBI's failure to provide public records related to the creation of a fake news story used to plant surveillance software on a suspect's computer.

Same-Sex Couple Cheers Gay Marriage Ruling in Kentucky

A Kentucky clerk's office on Thursday again refused to issue a marriage license to a gay couple, in defiance of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage across the country two months ago.

Wednesday, August 26

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Initiative Would Keep Confederate Emblem on Mississippi Flag

Organizers of a new ballot initiative are seeking to keep the Confederate battle emblem on Mississippi's flag by putting the flag design into the state constitution.

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Unintentional Filmmaker

In 2005, filmmaker Keith Beauchamp directed and produced "The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till," which won Audience and Special Jury awards at the 2005 Miami Film Festival, as well as the Freedom of Expression Award from the 2005 National Board of Review.

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Till Interpretive Center Seeks to Rewrite Civil Rights Narrative

Since 2007, city officials and local residents of Sumner, Miss., have worked together to reconcile a town that, 60 years ago, was the backdrop for an event that was a catalyst of the Civil Rights Movement.

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Remembering Emmett Till: A Boy Who Changed America

Scholars say understanding Emmett Till's death in historical context is important. While Emmett Till's death might have helped spark a reaction from Rosa Parks a few weeks later, the Civil Rights Movement had started as a legal struggle.

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Bryan’s Wild Predictions 2015

Each year around this time, I take a look in my cloudy crystal ball and make some predictions about the upcoming college-football season.

The Slate

This time next week, The Slate will feature the first week of college football. The University of Mississippi Rebels are currently ranked in the top 25 on the AP and USA Today Coaches Polls.

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Oxford Takes Right Stand on Flag, Deserves Support

Making a change by adopting a new state flag would make it much harder for outsiders to look at Mississippi and see us as the backward haters they mistakenly think we are.

Barbour’s True Place in Katrina History

The 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's devastation has understandably come with a deluge of retrospectives and remembrances—what went right and wrong, what lessons were learned, what work remains and how we all pulled together.

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Stinker Quote of the Week: 'Credit'

By the estimation of many observers, it was the ineptitude primarily of top federal government officials that exacerbated the damage Mother Nature wrought.

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Booty MacDrawers, Crime Investigator

"Watch Booty MacDrawers and Christie 'Love' McBride bring justice into your home and to the people on the new Ghetto Science Team for Truth and Justice Television Network."

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The Story of My Lifetime: Notes on Katrina’s 10th

As we approached the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I found myself wanting to experience neither.

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What the JFP is Praying For

Last week Mayor Tony Yarber tweeted that prayer would help fix the potholes in Jackson. Here's a list of what the JFP staff is praying for.

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‘Blood Sells’ No Excuse to Sell Out Young People

It's as if struggling media outlets want a quick fix of attention from trotting out young faces accused of bad things more often than they feature kids doing amazing things.

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Hurricane Katrina: Young Mississippians Remember the Storm

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, graduate student Ashley Norwood asked Gulf Coast natives at the University of Mississippi, "What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear Hurricane Katrina?"

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How School Districts Try to Make the Grade

The new system for grading Mississippi public schools is under fire in a recent PEER study that has called for changes.

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Mississippi's Marijuana Initiative in Trouble?

Organizers of a statewide ballot initiative to legalize cannabis in Mississippi and commute the sentences of people incarcerated for marijuana-related crimes fear their dreams are going up in smoke due to disturbing efforts to kill it.

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The King of Mississippi Seafood

Before arriving at GASCO, Ty Thames first had to compete against the likes of Parlor Market's Matthew Kajdan and Hal & Mal's Ryan Bell, among others, for the title of the King of Mississippi Seafood.

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Kwame Braxton: The Art in Hip-Hop

Jackson hip-hop artist Kwame Braxton's song "Carbon Copy Man" plays on a person's egotistical nature—that line between who you already are and who you are trying to be.

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Yarber, Council Gripped in Budget Battle of Wills

Jerry Taylor, like many of the people at Wingfield High School, was hopping mad about the City of Jackson's finances and a tax increase proposed to fill a budget deficit.

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Merchell Pittman

Merchell Pittman, a program support assistant at the G. V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center, says some of the greatest lessons in her life have come from her nearly two decades of military service.

Tuesday, August 25

Mississippi Judge Blocks Executions Temporarily

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the state of Mississippi from carrying out executions.

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JSU Scrambles for Housing with High Enrollment Numbers

Jackson State University's growth is taking place so rapidly that the school was caught off guard this year by the number of students wanting to study there.

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Local Coffee and Wine Shops Offering New Locations, Products, Services

Early next year, Mitchell Moore, who owns Campbell's Bakery (3013 N. State St.) in Fondren, will open a second location at 123 Jones St. in Madison.

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Melissa Vincent

Before Melissa Vincent began her Instagram account in 2011, she says she had never considered photography a real art form.

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A Three-Point Plan for Public Safety Built on Youth Success

Driven by research and common sense, law enforcement leaders are advocating for quality early education and reduced school suspensions and expulsions.

South Korea Halts Propaganda Broadcasts as Koreas Reach Deal

Seoul halted anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts over loudspeakers on the border Tuesday, hours after North Korea expressed "regret" over two South Korean soldiers maimed by recent land mine blasts.

Record Number of Migrants Arrive in Hungary

The latest surge of migrants crossing the Balkans has brought a record number to Hungary despite government efforts to quickly build a 4-meter (13-foot) high fence on the Serbian border to stop them.

Mississippi Holds Democratic and GOP Primary Runoffs Tuesday

Mississippi voters face runoff elections Tuesday to choose party nominees for two regional commissions and 12 legislative seats.

Monday, August 24

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Coleman, Amos Head to Transportation Commission Democratic Runoff

Although it wasn't as a big of a surprise as the outcome of the race for governor, the Democratic primary for the Central District representative to the Mississippi Transportation Commission also raised a few eyebrows.

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New Orleans Rises Decade After Katrina, but Gaps Remain

As people search for words to describe New Orleans' recovery a decade after Hurricane Katrina, they sometimes use words verging on the Biblical—an economic and cultural resurrection, a rising from the ashes.

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Eddie Cusic

Mississippi guitarist Eddie Cusic, a man whose contributions to the blues music scene far outweigh his own recognition, died Tuesday, Aug. 11, at 89 years old.

Iran Deal Picks Up Support Following Reid's Endorsement

With Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid on board, the nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers is picking up momentum to survive fierce opposition from Republican and Israeli opponents.

Survivors Tell of Deep Grief from Colorado Theater Massacre

In trembling, tearful voices, two daughters of a man killed in the Colorado theater shooting told a judge Monday his death shattered their lives and left them in a black hole of sorrow.

Police: Louisiana Trooper Dies After Being Shot in Head

A Louisiana trooper died Monday after he was shot by an apparently stranded motorist who stood over the officer and told him afterward, "You're lucky — you're going to die soon," state police said.

Wave of EU-Bound Migrants Crosses into Serbia

In a new human wave surging through the Balkans, thousands of exhausted migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa crossed on foot Monday from Macedonia into Serbia on their way to the European Union.

Witness Confirms IS Destruction of Ancient Temple in Syria

A resident in the Syrian city of Palmyra says Islamic State militants have demolished the ancient temple of Baalshamin after laying explosives around it for over a month, confirming earlier reports.

Americans, Briton Who Thwarted Attack Get France's Top Honor

The president of France pinned his country's highest award, the Legion d'Honneur, on three Americans and a Briton on Monday, saying they "gave a lesson in courage" by subduing a heavily armed attacker on a high-speed train carrying 500 passengers to Paris.

Rival Koreas Masters at Pulling Back from the Brink

Once again, the Koreas are trying to disentangle themselves from violence and threats of war — this time in tense talks that have dragged out in two marathon sessions over three days.

Saturday, August 22

1 Pleading Guilty in Mississippi Prison Bribery Case

One man pleaded guilty Friday and another was indicted on federal charges that they paid bribes and kickbacks to a former Mississippi corrections commissioner in exchange for contracts.

Friday, August 21

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PEER Questions Grading System for Public Schools

A legislative oversight group is questioning the way Mississippi grades its public schools even as the state moves forward with plans to take control of schools considered failing.

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Brittany Noble-Jones

Brittany Noble-Jones made her debut as WJTV's new morning show anchor Monday, Aug. 10, joining "News Channel 12 This Morning" co-anchor Andrew Harrison.

Feds Charge Madison, Carthage Men in Epps Bribery Scandal

Two more men have been charged with paying bribes and kickbacks to former Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps in exchange for contracts.

Report Finds School Ratings Flawed, Superintendent Disagrees

A legislative watchdog committee is questioning how Mississippi grades its public school districts and individual schools

Thursday, August 20

Court Upholds Student's Suspension for Posting Rap Song

A federal court on Thursday upheld a Mississippi high school student's suspension for posting a song online criticizing two coaches, rejecting the student's argument that he was exercising his right to free speech.

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JPS Revamps Hiring Practices to Slash Teacher Vacancies

As of Aug. 19, there are only about 22 teacher vacancies among JPS' 60 schools, Superintendent Cedrick Gray told the Jackson City Council during a presentation of the district's budget for the 2015-2016 school year.

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Jarius Moore

The Jackson State University Tigers turned to highly touted sophomore Jarius Moore to lead the ground game last season.

Rival Koreas Trade Artillery Fire at Border Over Broadcasts

South Korea fired dozens of shells Thursday at rival North Korea after the North lobbed several rounds across the world's most heavily armed border and threatened to take further action unless Seoul ends its loudspeaker broadcasts.

Prosecutor: Ex-Subway Pitchman Paid Kids for Sex on NY Trips

Longtime Subway pitchman Jared Fogle capitalized on his business trips to New York City to arrange trysts with minors in luxury hotels, federal prosecutors said in charging the Indiana man in a case that also documented his acceptance of child pornography from a close associate.

Protests in St. Louis After Police Shooting of Suspect, 18

Officers arrested at least nine people and deployed tear gas amid protests in St. Louis over the death of a black 18-year-old who was fatally shot by police after he pointed a gun at them, the city's police chief said.

Report on Iran Side Deal Angers GOP, House Dems Claims Votes

Republican opposition to President Barack Obama's nuclear deal is flaring over revelations of a secret side agreement involving Iranian inspections.

Oxford, Greenwood Removing Miss. Flag from City Property

Oxford and Greenwood have become the latest cities to stop flying the Mississippi flag because it contains a Confederate battle emblem.

Wednesday, August 19

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Journal from Jackson: Will Kids Win State's School-Funding Fight?

Fixing education in a state like Mississippi doesn't happen without a lot of kicking and screaming, even when there is nowhere to go but up.

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The JFP 2015 College Football Preview

Folks in Mississippi will be talking about the 2014-2015 college football season for years to come. Last season was nearly dream-like for the state, as the eyes of the college football world fell on us.

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2015 Games to Watch

If you could do nothing but travel the state each weekend to watch football, which games would you go see? I have spent weeks looking at schedules to tell you which games would be the best each week.

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JFP 2015 College Football Preview: The Smalls

Last season, Alcorn State did something it hadn't done since Steve McNair graced the cover of Sports Illustrated: It won a SWAC football championship. The Braves continued their flight up the SWAC standings under head coach Jay Hopson.

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JFP 2015 College Football Preview: Jackson State University

Jackson, Chang and Ivy are back this season for the Tigers, and all three have a year's worth of experience under their belts.

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JFP 2015 College Football Preview: University of Southern Mississippi

Southern Miss Head Coach Todd Monken will have a nice core returning on offense this season. The Golden Eagles return most of their offensive line, and junior quarterback Nick Mullens is back.

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JFP 2015 College Football Preview: University of Mississippi

The Rebels reeled off seven straight wins and reached No. 3 in the polls last season. The team beat Boise State University to start, though the Broncos went on to become Fiesta Bowl champs.

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JFP 2015 College Football Preview: Mississippi State University

Last season turned out to be a perfect storm for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs had a great mix of returning players, a favorable schedule and opponents with more questions than answers.

Oxford and Greenwood Bring Down Mississippi State Flag

Oxford and Greenwood have become the latest cities to stop flying the Mississippi flag because it contains a Confederate battle emblem.

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Food Truck Frenzy

The Jackson Free Press is beginning a new occasional series that features food from the different trucks and other mobile-food vendors.

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Mississippi Flag: A Question of Pride

The state flag represents separation. As it flies, it reminds this state that black people still are not measured as equal (enough).

Budget Spitting Matches Must End

The budget cannot be held hostage or become the casualty of a childish, pointless spitting match between politicians. These are serious times for the City of Jackson, and those games have to stop.

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Rest in Paradise, Julian Bond

Julian Bond was a figure I had looked up to for many, many years due to his lifelong mission to combat inequality.

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USDA Promotes Gender-Inclusivity in Jackson

Ashlee Davis wants members of the LGBT community to know that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will not discriminate against them.

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Officer’s Lawyer: Sanders Death Not Racial

Many in Stonewall believe Jonathan Sanders' death was racially motivated; Kevin Herrington's lawyer says that's nonsense.

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Finding Homes for People With HIV/AIDS

Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS/HIV serves individuals, families and couples (in domestic partnerships) if one member has AIDS.

Straight Outta Football

With the premier of "Straight Outta Compton" last week, Beats by Dre launched the "Straight Outta Somewhere" meme generator.

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Swift Kicks in the Game of Life

Sometimes we need a swift (verbal) kick to tell us we need to step up our game. Whether it's football or media, we have to work hard, really hard to be good.

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McQuirter: Stop Hinds County’s Bleeding

Darrel McQuirter met the Jackson Free Press for an early breakfast at a Clinton restaurant to dish on running for reelection while shaping the county's budget.

Consultant Aims to Boost Low-Budget Democratic Candidate

A political consultant who has worked for Democrats in the Deep South says he's trying to generate support for Robert Gray, the truck driver who did not spend a dime and won the party's nomination for Mississippi governor.

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Nigel Knott

By season's end last year, the only people targeting Nigel Knott with any regularity were college coaches.

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A Time to Read

When political consultant and author Jere Nash met his friend Leila Salisbury, director of the University Press of Mississippi, for lunch at Hal & Mal's in the spring of 2013, he didn't see himself walking out of the restaurant with a two-year mission.

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Begley: An ‘Activist Legislator’?

Sam Begley, 55, a well-known player in Democratic Party and political circles who is usually trying to help someone get elected, said he wants to be an "activist legislator," fighting for the city of Jackson.

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Who Is K. West?

Jackson hip-hop artist Kimberly West, known to her fans simply as K. West, has stayed busy since the release of her debut album, "He Say She Say," in 2012 and her 2013 follow-up, "Married to the Hustle," which featured singles and music videos "I Remember" and "Irrelevant B*tches."

Tuesday, August 18

Obama's Iran Deal May Well Survive on Capitol Hill

The fiercely contested Iran nuclear deal will likely survive in Congress despite unified GOP opposition and some Democratic defections, the top Senate Republican says. That would mean a major foreign policy win for President Barack Obama.

US Weighs More Security, Withdrawal Option for Sinai Forces

The Obama administration is quietly reviewing the future of America's three-decade deployment to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, fearful the lightly equipped peacekeepers could be targets of escalating Islamic State-inspired violence.

UN: Some Sexual Abuse Charges Against Peacekeepers Ignored

A new push against what the U.N. secretary-general calls the "cancer" of peacekeeper sexual misconduct, after the issue flared again last week, has a troubling weakness: Countries' lack of interest in prosecuting their troops who serve in U.N. missions, even though the responsibility is theirs alone.

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Costco Looms Over City Economic Development Talks

Big-box retailer Costco, which had been flirting with building in Jackson and is now in talks with Ridgeland officials, loomed large over today's City Council budget hearings.

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Dee Smith-Smathers

Although Dee Smith-Smathers did not get to celebrate her 74th birthday, she did live to see her marriage to her partner of 29 years, Charlene Smith-Smathers, recognized in her home state of Mississippi.

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Birthday Lunch with Maison Weiss, Albriton's Moving, After-Work Networking

Ken Szilasi, owner of Maison Weiss, a women's fashion specialty store located at Highland Village, is hosting a celebration to commemorate his store's 40th anniversary today, Aug. 17, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Gay Couples Win, but Still Lose After Kentucky Judge's Order

Two same-sex couples in this small eastern Kentucky county got everything they wanted in a ruling from a federal judge Monday, except for one sentence.

2 Women Pass Army Ranger School, First Female Graduates

Two women have passed the Army's Ranger School, becoming the first females to complete the grueling combat training program and earn the right to wear Ranger tabs on their uniforms.

Monday, August 17

Reluctant Kentucky Clerk Gets Time for Gay Marriage Appeal

A Kentucky county clerk who objects to same-sex marriage was given room on Monday to continue denying licenses to gays and lesbians while she takes her case to a federal appeals court.

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Drake Elder

Jackson music impresario and Bebop Record Shop co-founder Drake Elder died the morning of Friday, Aug. 14, at his home in Brandon.

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No Big Surprises in Certified Election Results, Runoffs Planned

Both political parties have certified their primary elections and sent the results to the Mississippi Secretary of State's office.

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JPD, Zoo and Parks Face Tough Budget Climate

Beth Poff, the executive director of the Jackson Zoo, said the park is in a good financial position and debt-free.

Board Dismisses Ruling to Allow College Athletes to Unionize

The National Labor Relations Board on Monday overturned a historic ruling that gave Northwestern University football players the go-ahead to form the nation's first college athletes' union, saying the prospect of union and non-union teams could throw off the competitive balance in college football.

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Bond Remembered for Civil Rights Work After His Death at 75

Through the tough struggles of the civil rights movement, Julian Bond always kept his sense of humor, and it was his steady demeanor that helped him persist despite the inevitable difficulties involved, his wife recalled.

Brewers Minor Leaguer Says He's Gay; MLB Lauds His Courage

Milwaukee Brewers minor leaguer David Denson became the first openly gay active player on a team affiliated with Major League Baseball.

Trump Reports for New York Jury Duty, Takes Campaign Break

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump took a break Monday from courting voters to go to court as a potential juror.

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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, August 14

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Union Leader: Furloughs Will 'Severely' Hurt City Workers

The head of an area labor union called a furlough plan and proposed property-tax increase a double whammy for Jackson employees.

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The Hustlers

Musician Aven Whittington likes to call The Hustlers "howl-at-the-moon music." Another description may be "front-porch music."

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Ted Cruz Sees Path to White House Running Through the South

Ted Cruz sees his way to the White House, and it runs between the hedges, through waters patrolled by the "Volunteer Navy" and a spot on the Mississippi River nicknamed Death Valley.

Clerk Ignores Gay Marriage Order, Asks Judge for Delay

A Kentucky clerk who defied a federal judge's order to issue marriage licenses and turned away four gay couples has until Monday to convince the judge to delay his mandate.

Japanese Leader Abe Stops Short of Apology for World War II

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged Friday that Japan inflicted "immeasurable damage and suffering" on innocent people in World War II, but stopped short of offering his own apology and said future generations of Japanese should not have to make them either.

Kerry in Cuba to Raise Embassy Flag in Policy Victory Lap

Washington's top diplomat flew to Havana on Friday to raise the Stars and Stripes over the newly opened U.S. Embassy, making a symbolically charged victory lap for the Obama administration's new policy of engagement with Cuba.

Emergency Water Conservation Request for the City of Jackson

Effective immediately, The City of Jackson has issued an emergency water conservation request for all customers served by the City’s Water System.

PSC Approves 18 Percent Rate Increase for Mississippi Power

State utility regulators agreed Thursday that Mississippi Power Co. needs more money immediately, granting the company an 18 percent rate increase that, while temporary for now, could become permanent by December.

Thursday, August 13

Justices: Judge Wrong to Rewrite 42-A Ballot Description

In a split decision Thursday, justices ruled that a Hinds County circuit judge should not have rewritten the ballot title for an alternative initiative, also dealing with school funding, that legislators put on the Nov. 3 ballot.

State Supreme Court: Circuit Judge Wrong to Rewrite 42-A Ballot

Supporters of a school funding initiative have lost a battle in the Mississippi Supreme Court.

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Dr. Carolyn Meyers Tackles Rumors, Says State of JSU is 'Solid'

Before giving her official State of the University speech, Jackson State University President Dr. Carolyn Meyers took a few moments to dismiss some rumors out in the ether about her and her administration of the storied historically black university.

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Pickering: Did Not Have 'Anything to Do With' LGBT Robo-calls

Stacey Pickering, the incumbent Republican candidate for state auditor, said Wednesday that he had nothing to do with the automated calls that called his Democrat challenger, Joce Pritchett, an "LGBT candidate."

Clerk's Office Defies Order; No Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

A clerk's office turned away gay couples who sought marriage licenses on Thursday, defying a federal judge's order that said deeply held Christian beliefs don't excuse officials from following the law.

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Rico Richardson

One player from Jackson State is currently listed on an NFL roster: Rico Richardson for the Tennessee Titans.

Indonesia Nabs Ship Believed to Carry Slave-Caught Fish

A massive refrigerated cargo ship believed to be loaded with slave-caught fish was seized by Indonesia's navy and brought to shore Thursday, after The Associated Press informed authorities it had entered the country's waters.

At Least 50 Dead as Huge Warehouse Blasts Hit Chinese Port

Huge, fiery blasts at a warehouse for hazardous chemicals killed at least 50 people and turned nearby buildings into skeletal shells in the Chinese port of Tianjin, raising questions Thursday about whether the materials had been properly stored.

FAA: Pilot Reports of Drone Sightings More than Double

Pilot reports of drone sightings so far this year are more than double last year, the Federal Aviation Administration reported Thursday.

Wednesday, August 12

Couples Sue to Overturn Mississippi Ban on Gay Adoptions

Four lesbian couples are challenging Mississippi's ban on allowing gay couples to adopt or take children into foster care.

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Jalana Ellis: From Canada to Mississippi

Since driving more than 1,100 miles south to the JSU campus from her hometown just northwest of Toronto, Jalana Ellis has started every game and led the team in points during each of her two seasons.

The Slate

The first preseason NFL game of 2015 is in the books as Minnesota won 14-3 over Pittsburgh. Former University of Mississippi star Mike Wallace had just one target passing but no catches for Minnesota.

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Community and Camaraderie

Now in its 11th year, Bright Lights, Belhaven Nights is styled as a music and arts festival, but it's also a celebration of community and camaraderie between neighbors and friends of Belhaven.

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November Election: Party Lines Drawn Early

Education funding, job creation and fighting corruption are at the top of many Mississippi statewide candidates' lists heading into the November election.

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Keep on Truckin: Meet Robert Gray

It was not until 7:36 on the morning of Aug. 5 that anyone found out what Robert Gray looked like, much less how he wound up being the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee for Mississippi governor.

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An Open Letter to My Daughter

Discriminatory practices are and must continue to be challenged in the legal, policy, judiciary, corporate and executive arenas. Victory in such arenas must be achieved through political participation, litigation and good ole zeal.

JATRAN Overhaul Past Due

It's not that having a reliable public-transportation is just a nice thing to have, but as Dr. Scott Crawford rightly told the Jackson City Council this week, for many people, and for our city, it's as important as food, water and shelter.

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Stinker Quote of the Week: 'Reject'

Democrats have their work cut out for them, but elephants should be careful in glass houses.

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Open Season

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

Roger That

Some of the Jackson Free Press staff decided to reveal our own CB handles in this issue.

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‘Empower’ PAC Helps Oust Anti-Charter Republicans

Empower Mississippi, a nonprofit dedicated to school choice, used its political arm, the Empower PAC, to unseat four incumbent Republican candidates for the Mississippi House of Representatives in the DeSoto County primary elections on Aug. 4.

South Korean Man, 80, Sets Self on Fire at Anti-Japan Rally

An 80-year-old South Korean man was unconscious and experiencing breathing difficulties after setting himself on fire during an anti-Japan protest in Seoul on Wednesday, hospital officials said.

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Pre-K Collaboratives Helping 4-Year-Olds

Most 4-year-olds are learning more basic skills before entering kindergarten due to Early Learning Collaboratives, the Mississippi Department of Education is reporting.

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Public Works Takes Center Stage at Jackson Budget Talks

Public Works is responsible for maintaining the city's aging and deteriorating roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, and even for building maintenance and collecting money from parking meters. It also has been a lightning rod in recent months.

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Dexter Allen’s Banner Years

While Jackson-based blues artist Dexter Allen describes himself as "a little country boy with a little talent," the last two years of his career have earned him enough attention to dispute that.

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Where the Professionals Eat

On a typical night at ISH Grill & Bar, you may see local doctors and professionals sitting at the dark wooden bar near the back, mingling and unhinging from their work day.

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My Advice for Mississippi Politicians

Being inspired is pretty much the same whether you're trying to decide who to elect or to stay excited about your career.

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Eden Brent: Born into Blues

Greenville native singer and pianist Eden Brent says she owes her love of the blues to the Mississippi Delta.

The Pre-Fest Playlist

For many people, the preparation for a major music event is almost as important a part of the festival-going experience as attending.

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Dr. Taunjah Bell Neasman

For psychology majors at Jackson State University, not many other professors have made a bigger impact than Dr. Taunjah Bell Neasman.

Tuesday, August 11

St. Louis County Releases Video of Tyrone Harris, Pulls Gun 'In Response to Shots Being Fired'

St. Louis County police have released surveillance video footage they say shows Tyrone Harris Jr., the 18-year-old black suspect who was critically wounded after being shot by police Sunday night in Ferguson, minutes before he fired a gun at plainclothes officers.

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City OKs JATRAN Operations Contract

The City of Jackson has approved an operations contract for JATRAN, the city's transit authority.

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Mixed-Use at Medical Mall, Fleet Feet 'Pep Rally,' 'What Works Cities'

The Jackson Medical Mall is hosting a groundbreaking ceremony for a new mixed-use retail site called Woodrow Wilson Place Thursday, Aug. 13, at 10 a.m.

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Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas is a bit of a turnaround specialist.

Feds: Group Made $30M with Hacked Press Release Information

A group of Ukrainian hackers worked with securities traders in the U.S. to make $30 million by breaking into the computer systems of companies that publish news releases about publicly traded companies and trading on the information before it was made public, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Charge: 2 Mississippi Residents Aimed to Join Islamic State

Two Mississippi residents were arrested over the weekend on charges that they were trying to travel abroad to join the Islamic State militant group.

Japan Restarts Reactor After Break Due to Fukushima

A power plant operator in southern Japan restarted a nuclear reactor on Tuesday, the first to begin operating under new safety requirements following the Fukushima disaster.

4th Night of Ferguson Protests Brings Confrontation, Arrests

Police arrested nearly two dozen people in Ferguson during a protest that stretched into early Tuesday marking the anniversary of the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, although there was no repeat of the violence that scarred weekend demonstrations.

Greece Agrees on Broad Terms of New Bailout Package

Greece has agreed on the broad terms of a new three-year bailout package with international creditors, with a few last details expected to be ironed out Tuesday.

Monday, August 10

Miss Health Officials: 4 New Human Cases of West Nile Virus

The Mississippi State Department of Health has announced four new cases of West Nile virus.

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Yarber Budget Proposes Tax Hike, Furloughs to Balance Budget

The City of Jackson is going into austerity mode with Mayor Tony Yarber's budget proposal, unveiled this morning at the first of a month's worth of budget talks.

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Zack Bird

Thanks to a 13-player trade between the Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves, former Murrah High School graduate and star pitcher Zack Bird did go home again.

Saturday, August 8

After Debate Performance, Carly Fiorina's GOP Stock Rises

ATLANTA (AP) — As Carly Fiorina stood at the back of a packed hotel ballroom Friday to give a television interview, a gaggle of conservative activists watched, chattered and snapped pictures as if she were a Hollywood celebrity.

Friday, August 7

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James Covington Drops Out of House 65 Race

James Covington, who appeared to be headed for a Democratic runoff with businessman Chris Bell, says he is ending his candidacy for Mississippi House District 65.

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Mullen Insists the 2015 Bulldogs Are a Veteran Squad

Coach Dan Mullen insists the 2015 Mississippi State Bulldogs are a veteran football team. The seventh-year coach says last year's rotation was so deep — especially on defense — that the so-called second-string players could have been considered starters.

Colorado Shooter Gets Life Sentence, Jury Couldn't Agree on Death Penalty

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — Colorado theater shooter James Holmes will be sentenced to life in prison without parole after a jury failed to agree Friday on whether he should get the death penalty for his murderous attack on a packed movie premiere.

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City: Employee Furloughs to Save $4.9 Million

Starting in October, all full-time employees will be required to take one furlough day per month.

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The Scott Sisters

The news cycle has turned quite a few times since the Scott sisters' release. Finding a way back to normal life has proved a much slower process for the siblings.

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PSC to Vote Next Week on Miss. Power Rates, Approves Refunds

State utility regulators plan to decide Mississippi Power Co.'s request for an 18 percent rate increase on Aug. 13.

Activists Want More Transparency in Counterterrorism Efforts

Muslim groups and civil rights activists across the nation Thursday called for greater transparency in a program by President Barack Obama's administration that's aimed at countering homegrown terrorism.

Trump-Inspired Debate Drama Highlights Unsettled GOP Field

The primetime ruckus on national television overshadowed some of the GOP's biggest stars, while creating fresh openings for others.

A Year After Michael Brown's Death, Ferguson Has Changed

A year ago, Ferguson, Missouri, was a mostly quiet working-class suburban town. The uneasy relationship between its growing black population and its mostly white police force barely registered in local headlines.

France Expands Hunt for Debris in Week-Long Reunion Search

A French search plane lifted off Friday for a birds-eye view of Reunion Island, seeking any more potential debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Pew Poll: Majority of Americans Support Confederate Flag Removal

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina's decision to remove the Confederate flag from its Statehouse grounds meets with the approval of 57 percent of Americans, but 34 percent believe it was the wrong move, a new survey revealed.

Thursday, August 6

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Democrats Still Unsure How Robert Gray Won, But Express Support

Reminiscent of the national electoral map that swept Ronald Reagan to a landslide second-term victory in 1984, the Democratic nominee for Mississippi governor won all but three counties.

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Attorney General Seeks Execution Date for Death Row Inmate

The attorney for a Mississippi death row inmate argues in court briefs that he should not be put to death until a federal judge determines if the state's lethal injection protocol is constitutional.

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Billy Solitario

As a child, Billy Solitario was always drawing, exploring his fascination with nature and the way things were organized. Now, at 43, he puts those interests to use in his large contemporary landscapes and still-life works.

Shreveport Police: Officer Shot, Killed; Manhunt Ongoing

Police in northwest Louisiana have identified an officer who was killed Wednesday night and the suspect wanted in his slaying.

Japan Marks 70th Anniversary of Hiroshima Atomic Bombing

Japan marked the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Thursday, with Mayor Kazumi Matsui renewing calls for U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders to step up efforts toward making a nuclear-weapons-free world.

With First Debate, GOP Looks to Narrow Vast Candidate Field

For the Republican Party, the narrowing of that vast field of presidential hopefuls begins in earnest Thursday with the first debate of the 2016 campaign.

Kerry: Deal to Bring Justice for Syria Chemical Arms Attacks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he hopes an agreement reached with Russia to investigate chemical weapons attacks in Syria will hold the perpetrators accountable.

US Demands Halt to Provocative South China Sea Activities

n a direct challenge to China, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Thursday for all claimants to disputed territories in the South China Sea to immediately halt provocative activities that have ratcheted up tensions in some of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

Suspect in Latest Theater Attack Had Psychological Issues

What initially appeared to be another mass shooting at a movie theater ended up being an attack by a disturbed homeless man who wasn't armed with a real gun and was eventually shot and killed by police.

Islamic State Group Seizes Central Syrian Town

The Islamic State group on Thursday seized a key town in central Syria following heavy clashes with President Bashar Assad's forces, in the militants' biggest advance since capturing the historic town of Palmyra in May, Syrian activists said.

Wednesday, August 5

Unofficial Statewide and Hinds County Primary Winners

Here is the list of unofficial winners in yesterday's statewide primaries:

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From Bottle to Glass

After the 2015 Jackson Free Press beer tasting, I took an empty bottle of Rogue Sriracha Ale and New Belgium Brewing Co. Transatlantique Kriek home with me to turn it into another glass for my collection. As I discovered, it's not as easy as it looks.

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High School Football Preview 2015

Football season starts on Friday nights in Mississippi. Here are 10 big stories to follow for the high-school football season.

The Slate

The long wait is over. The first sign that summer is ending is that this weekend, there is football on TV, even if it is just the preseason.

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The Strangest Dance

Music is a treasure. But the luster is wearing off, and we can't blame that all on venues. There's a reason that the hoops artists jump through are so widespread.

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In the Middle of Claire Holley

Jackson-born singer-songwriter Claire Holley didn't dream of being a professional musician as a child, but she wasn't avoiding it, either.

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Your Own Oxygen Mask

Dear readers, you may recall that a while back, I took a restorative yoga class at Tara Yoga Studio. Turns out, it gave me an epiphany.

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Oh, the Places You Can Worship

Moving to a new city also meaning finding places that are just as good as the ones you left at home, including a new place of worship. Luckily, Jackson has many diverse places that may appeal to young adults of many different faiths.

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Best Outdoor Dining Beyond Fondren

BRAVO! Italian Restaurant and Bar offers wood-fired pizzas, pastas, gourmet entrees, a gluten-free menu and more.

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Best of Jackson: Saturday Art Tour

Jackson's creative community has so much to offer, and there is no better way to enjoy it than visiting the variety of art galleries in the area, talking to local artists and experiencing art firsthand.

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DIY Dorm Décor

Living in a dorm room doesn't have to be dull and boring. With the next school year just around the corner, you'll need more than just the usual school supplies to liven up your room.

Creative Outlets for College Students

College can take a toll on you, both mentally and physically, from the anxieties and the expectations of academic excellence, so why not allow yourself some creative rejuvenation?

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What to Do in Jacktown

If you think Jackson has nothing to do, think again. The city, as every true Jacksonian knows, is filled with attractions and events for everyone.

Nashville Official: Report of Shots Fired at Area Theater

Authorities say police are responding to reports of shots fired at a movie theater southeast of Nashville, Tennessee.

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Robert Gray in (Truck) Driver's Seat to Challenge Gov. Phil Bryant

Robert Gray shocked political watchers around the state by finishing first among the three Democratic candidates with 51 percent of the vote, which would not necessitate a runoff if the totals hold up.

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Famous Athletes from Jackson

Besides blues music and many other things, Jackson has also had many great athletes come out of it. Here are a few of them.

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This ‘Mississippi’ or That One?

Education, health, you name it. People will shrug and say, "This is Mississippi," expecting it to be the last in everything good and first at all things bad.

Stop the Budget Cut Shell Game

If the mandatory education-funding referendum known as Initiative 42 passes, Republicans say schools would have to receive full funding immediately, throwing the budget into chaos, practically knocking the Earth off its axis and shredding the time-space continuum.

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A Pink Keychain of Mace

One thing everyone told me before I left for college is to always protect myself. Be aware of my surroundings, travel in packs, walk only in well-lit areas—the same diatribe heard for generations.

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Earlier Neshoba Jail Death Raises Questions

Before the death of Rexdale Henry in the Neshoba County Jail in July, there was Michael McDougle.

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State of the City Precedes Budget Talks

For municipal finance wonks, there is no more fun time of year than annual budget negotiations that will result in a city spending plan for the next fiscal year.

Half of Blacks Say Police Have Treated Them Unfairly

A majority of blacks in the United States—more than 3 out of 5—say they or a family member have personal experience with being treated unfairly by the police, and their race is the reason why.

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How Local Walking Trails Can be Beneficial

With proper exercise, the freshman 15 can be conquered. Here are a few that are near local campuses.

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Best of Jackson: Best Outdoor Dining in Jackson, Fondren Edition

The cool thing about Jackson is that it has a lot of great local restaurants. The trendy Fondren neighborhood is packed with outdoor dining options.

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What Does Local Mean?

As a publication, the Jackson Free Press has pushed the idea of shopping local in its almost 13 years of existence. We pride ourselves on being local—shopping local, dining local, hanging out local.

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Trail of Tears: The Burial of Rexdale Henry

Many members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians came to Stephens Chapel to honor the life of one of their own, 53-year-old stickball coach and tribal activist Rexdale Wayne Henry.

Challengers Unseat 4 DeSoto County State GOP House Members

Four DeSoto County House Republican incumbents targeted by a pro-school choice group because of opposition to charter schools are among at least nine incumbents who lost party primaries Tuesday.

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Mahesh Nayak

After seeing a computer for the first time as a small child in India, Mahesh Nayak realized he had a passion for technology. He begged for his mother, Prema Nayak, to buy him a computer.

'Mystery Guy' Wins Democratic Primary for Governor, Auditor Pickering Holds Off Mayor Mary

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has $2.8 million in his campaign fund, and his Democratic challenger in the November election is a truck driver who reported spending no money so far and who said he didn't even vote in Tuesday's primary.

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The Unbearable Heaviness of Adulthood

According to The Sentencing Project, black youth are twice as likely to be arrested than white youth, something that affected me even as a minor, and though 58 percent of black youth are sent to adult prisons, it's scary to think that being sentenced to a juvenile detention center is no longer an option for me.

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Threatened Budget Cuts Could Hurt State

Higher education, mental health and human services would suffer large reductions in staff and funding with the 7.8 percent cut Mississippi state agencies are proposing should voters choose to force the State to follow the law and fully fund public education in Mississippi.

Quotes from Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Robert Gray

Although Robert Gray, candidate and potentially the winner of the Democratic gubernatorial primary in Mississippi, is something of an enigma, he did speak to the Associated Press prior to the election.

Tuesday, August 4

MS Dept of Education Moving Temporarily After Fire

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi Department of Education said Tuesday that it's moving out of its headquarters for months, following damage from a July 19 fire.

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Storify: Liveblogging Election Results

We'll be live-blogging election results as they come in all night for the 2015 state primaries. Follow us here and in social media!

Obama, Netanyahu Make Dueling Appeals on Iran to US Jews

President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were making dueling appeals to the American Jewish community Tuesday as they sought to rally support for their opposing positions on the Iranian nuclear deal.

Milwaukee Archdiocese Settles Abuse Cases for $21 Million

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee said Tuesday that it will pay $21 million to more than 300 victims of clergy abuse in a settlement that would end a four-year bankruptcy proceeding.

Camp Shelby Shots Fired: The Latest

The latest on the search for two men who authorities say shot at soldiers training at Camp Shelby in Mississippi.

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Westin Hotel Project Officially Begins

Announced in late 2011, the 205-room Westin hotel is a $60-million project that drew public money with the help of government agencies.

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Stamps Joins Coffee Roastery, Saltine Wins Big, and New Leader at Systems Group

Debra Griffin, owner of the Coffee Roastery, will relaunch her coffee shop later this month together with Al Stamps of Cool Al's fame.

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Col. Michele Edmondson and Capt. Cheryl M. Hanse

For the first time, the Seabee base in Gulfport and Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi are being led by women.

Sandra Bland's Family Sues Trooper, Texas Department of Safety, Waller County Sheriff's Department

HOUSTON (AP) — The family of a black woman found dead in a Texas jail three days after a confrontation with a white state trooper filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Tuesday against the officer and other officials, saying it was a last resort after being unable to get enough information about the case.

'Fire Sale' On Fossil Fuels: Energy Prices Near 10-Year Lows

NEW YORK (AP) — These days it seems whatever can be burned to power a car, heat a home, make electricity or ship people and goods around the globe is being sold at bargain basement prices.

Mormon Church to Release More Documents from Founder

The Mormon church is taking another step in its push to be more transparent, and is releasing more historical documents that shed light on how Joseph Smith formed the religion.

More Fights Ahead on Planned Parenthood After Senate Vote

In the aftermath of the Senate's derailing of Republican legislation halting federal dollars for Planned Parenthood, one thing seems clear: Many on both sides think they can ring up gains from the battle.

Bail Hearing Today for Madison County Courthouse Shooter; Revenge For Mother's Shooting Suspected as Motive

CANTON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi man arrested for fatally shooting another man at a courthouse in a possible case of revenge was scheduled for a bail hearing Tuesday.

Secretary of State: It's Legal To Cast a Partial Ballot in Primaries

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi voters on Tuesday are choosing Democratic and Republican nominees for governor and lieutenant governor.

Monday, August 3

Holmes Jury Keeps Execution as Option as Sentencing Advances

Jurors on Monday moved one step closer toward sentencing James Holmes to death for his Colorado movie theater attack, taking less than three hours to reject arguments that the former neuroscience student's mental illness means he should not die.

Prosecutor: White Officer Panicked Before Shooting Black Man

A white Charlotte police officer on trial for the on-duty killing of a black man panicked and didn't identify himself or give any commands before shooting 12 times at the agitated man seeking help in an unfamiliar neighborhood after a car crash, a prosecutor said during opening statements Monday.

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Dem Primary Races Could Make Election Day Interesting

While pundits predict depressed turnout in tomorrow's statewide primary elections, a few Democratic legislative and county races might pique voter interest enough for Hinds County to prove prognosticators wrong.

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Monica Joiner

Monica Joiner, 35, is passionate about serving her hometown of Jackson, and she is not afraid to let you know it.

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Sheriff: Man Fatally Shoots Defendant Waiting at Courthouse

A man fatally shot a defendant waiting in a small courtyard outside a county courthouse in Mississippi on Monday morning, and a suspect is in custody, law enforcement officials said.

Officials: Madison County Courthouse Shooting Suspect 'Peacefully' Taken Into Custody

A man was shot and killed this morning outside a Madison County courthouse in Canton.

Ferguson Spurs 40 New State Measures; Activists Want More

When a white Ferguson policeman fatally shot a black 18-year-old nearly a year ago, the St. Louis suburb erupted in violent protests and the nation took notice. Since then, legislators in almost every state have proposed changes to the way police interact with the public.

Manhunt Underway for Suspect in Officer's Fatal Shooting

A manhunt was underway Monday for a suspect who police say fatally shot a Memphis officer after he interrupted a drug deal involving a small amount of marijuana that would have resulted in just a misdemeanor citation and a fine.

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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.