Stories for February 2015


Friday, February 27

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LGBT Leader, Other Democratic Women Running for Office

The civil engineer and businesswoman helping to spearhead the fight for marriage equality in Mississippi is running for state auditor and hopes to bring transparency to the office that holds the state accountable for its spending.

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Dr. Sunny Fridge

Dr. Sunny Fridge is a former producer, reporter and anchor who has taught in the mass communications department at Jackson State University for 14 years.

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Gov. Bryant Gets GOP Foe as Filing Deadline Nears

First-term Gov. Phil Bryant picked up a Republican primary challenger Thursday, the day before candidates' deadline to qualify for statewide, regional and legislative races.

House Clears Way for Short-Term Homeland Security Bill

The House has cleared the way for passage of a short-term bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security and avert a partial agency shutdown.

Ukraine Government Forces, Rebels Withdraw Heavy Weapons

Ukrainian and Russian-backed separatist forces drew back some heavy weapons from the front line in the east Friday in compliance with a cease-fire deal, although officials in Kiev accused rebels of falling short of requirements.

Cash-Strapped Ukraine Struggles to Keep Russia Gas Supplies

Cash-strapped Ukraine sought to buy time in its effort to ensure continued gas supplies from Russia, making a $15 million payment Friday to Moscow as it waits for international rescue loans to arrive.

McDaniel Seeking 3rd Term in Mississippi Senate

Chris McDaniel, a tea party-backed Republican who lost a U.S. Senate race last year, says he's seeking re-election to the Mississippi Legislature.

Thursday, February 26

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Uncertainty Looms for Wages, Schools, Health Care in Tax Cut Plan

Despite a controversial $1.5 billion tax cut prompting fierce debate on education funding, state employee salaries, grocery taxes and lottery tickets, the Republican-led tax plan passed the Mississippi House of Representatives with no mechanism to keep vital state services intact.

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Stefan Moody

If I was going to bet on who will be the frontrunner for this year's Howell Trophy, my money would be on University of Mississippi junior guard Stefan Moody.

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For Many Middle-Class Taxpayers On Obamacare, It's Payback Time

As tax day approaches, hundreds of thousands of families who enrolled in plans through the insurance marketplaces could be stuck with unexpected tax bills, according to researchers.

DC Legalizes Pot in Capital, Despite Threats from Congress

The District of Columbia defied threats from Congress and moved forward Thursday with legalizing possession of marijuana after a voter-approved initiative.

Homeland Security Bill Moves in Senate While House in Limbo

The Senate is moving forward on legislation to fund the Homeland Security Department, but the House is in limbo two days away from a partial agency shutdown as conservatives angrily reject the Senate plan.

Ukraine, Rebels Start Pulling Back Heavy Weapons in the East

In a long-awaited development, Ukrainian forces and separatist fighters both announced Thursday they are pulling back heavy weapons from the front line in eastern Ukraine.

Cyber Threats Expanding, New US Intelligence Assessment Says

The U.S. has elevated its appraisal of the cyber threat from Russia, the U.S. intelligence chief said Thursday, as he delivered the annual assessment by intelligence agencies of the top dangers facing the country.

Lawsuit Settled Over Allegation Bullying of Gay Students

The Southern Poverty Law Center has announced a settlement of its federal lawsuit alleging that gay students were routinely bullied in a south Mississippi school district.

Wednesday, February 25

Home Cookin’ Capsule

Jackson Preparatory School soccer defeated Madison-Ridgeland Academy 3-2 Feb. 21 for a fifth consecutive MAIS Division I state championship. 

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A Long Shot

In late January, Grant Worsley of the Worsley Group organized a football tryout and brought scouts from the Canadian Football League's Winnipeg Blue Bombers to Smith-Wills Stadium.

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Mississippi NBA Pairing Perfectly Timed

Looking to bolster their fading playoff hopes, the Charlotte Hornets reinvigorated the careers of two of Mississippi's all-time greats in the process.

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Waka Winter Classic Brings the Heat

From the moment they pick up an instrument, most musicians dream of performing for thousands of adoring fans. With Waka Winter Classic, that dream gets a little closer to reality.

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Lucero: Band of Brothers

After 17 years of playing and staying together, the members of Lucero are family. Cranking out albums and touring hard throughout their tenure, they've diversified their sound and grown an equally diverse fan base.

Moss Point Schools LGBT Bullying Case Settled

The Southern Poverty Law Center has reached a settlement with Mississippi’s Moss Point School District on behalf of Destin Holmes, a student who was subjected to pervasive anti-LGBT bullying and harassment by fellow students, faculty and even administrators.

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Bringing Back the Good

In a time when artists often make music heavily laced with electronic sounds, Stacey Winters, owner of Soul Wired Cafe, plans to bring back the good days and the good vibes to midtown with a new kind of event.

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Something New in Old News

Although Millsaps College history professor Stephanie Rolph wouldn't call herself a specialist on art, on April 11, she will deliver "Perspectives in the Press" in conjunction with the Mississippi Museum of Art's exhibit, "Civil War Drawings: The Becker Collection."

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King of Southern Hip-Hop

Big K.R.I.T. is on tour promoting his newest album "Cadillactica."

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Sister Act: Margaret Walker and Eudora Welty

A strong part of Mississippi's literary heritage rests on the legacies of Eudora Welty and Margaret Walker Alexander. The two women share a simple yet striking commonality: the gift of words.

Epps, Ex-Prison Boss, Pleads Guilty to 2 Federal Corruption Counts

In a change of course, Former Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts in a federal corruption case.

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Samoan Treats

Girl Scouts have been selling cookies for almost 50 years to raise money for the organization and to teach the girls goal-setting and people skills.

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Welcoming the Year of the Goat

This year, the City of Jackson and the Mississippi Chinese Association will co-host their first collaborative event, the Chinese Spring Festival, celebrating the new year with festivities at Thalia Mara Hall Saturday, Feb. 28.

How to Lower Teen Pregnancy

Women in Mississippi live in a state with some of the most oppressive laws in regards to reproductive health in the nation.

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The Executioner’s Hood

America has a schizophrenic relationship with the death penalty. Many of us want to eliminate those who commit egregious, heinous crimes, but most don't want the personal or social guilt of inflicting additional pain and killing.

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Chamber Initiative Connects Do-Gooders

The holidays have passed, but the spirit of giving—or more precisely, giving back—remains in Jackson, thanks in part to a new initiative of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership.

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Mississippi Sex Education Efforts Still Limited

Although the state began to require institutions of higher education to create a plan for pregnancy prevention, it has not helped the schools develop those plans, nor has it required the schools to follow them.

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One Year After Chokwe

One year ago, on the afternoon of Feb. 25, 2014, Chokwe Lumumba passed away after less than a year serving as mayor of Jackson.

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Meet the Players

Grady Champion has seen many musicians come and go over the course of his illustrious career, but the blues musician says his current backing musicians, though young, are some of the best band members he's ever had.

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Grady Champion: New Roots

Grady Champion built his personal recording suite, Backyard Studio, beside his house last June, using equipment that he purchased online from Sweetwater Sound in Fort Wayne, Ind.

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Johnnie Mae Maberry

When Tougaloo College professor Johnnie Mae Maberry created one of her longest-running art exhibits, "Slave Narratives," which was sponsored by New York Life, it wasn't just about giving viewers a visual history of slavery.

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Dumping Siemens Could Be Lengthy, Costly Process

Kenneth Stokes, in his first week back as Ward 3 councilman, said he plans to offer a proposal to get the city out from underneath its $90 million contract with Siemens Energy Inc. for replacing water meters and making repairs to water and sewer lines.

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You’ve Got Mail

Rather than being disheartened that so much slips under the radar, it's a relief to learn just how wrong people are when they say, "There's nothing to do in Jackson."

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Tackling Poverty, Medicaid: Solutions Discussed Outside of Capitol

Over the last several days, the Mississippi Legislature has hit a calmer patch of the session as it deals with the state budget, despite the week beginning with racist comments from Rep. Gene Alday, R-Walls, flooding the media.

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A Long Apprenticeship

Some of my favorite fiction writers got their training banging out newspaper stories, like hardboiled master James Cain, but Hemingway had another point when he said getting "out of it in time" may be necessary.

Tuesday, February 24

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N.U.T.S. is Moving, New Restaurants and eTech Conference Coming

N.U.T.S. (Neat Used Things for Sale) in Fondren (3011 N. State St.) is moving from its location next to Campbell's Bakery by the end of the week. In order to help reduce inventory ahead of the move, the consignment store is holding a 50-percent-off moving sale through Wednesday, Feb. 25.

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Gunn to Seek Phaseout of Personal Income Tax

In a game of escalating tax-cut proposals, House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, will propose the biggest so far: a $1.7 billion phaseout of Mississippi's state personal income tax over more than a decade, a top legislator said late Monday.

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Tom Freeland

Tom Freeland, who passed away Feb. 21, dedicated his free time to Mississippi political commentary, including on cases such as Michelle Byrom's.

Ukraine Disputes Rebel Claim that Weapons Pullback Begins

Russian-backed separatists moved some heavy weapons well back from the front line Tuesday in eastern Ukraine, but the Ukrainian government disputed the rebels' claim that a real pullback had begun.

Alaska Becomes 3rd State with Legal Marijuana

Alaska on Tuesday became the third U.S. state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, but organizers don't expect any public celebrations since it remains illegal to smoke marijuana in public.

IS Militants Abduct Dozens of Christians in Syria

Islamic State militants have abducted at least 70 Christians, including women and children, after overrunning a string of villages in northeastern Syria, activists and relatives said Tuesday.

Monday, February 23

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Beyond Crime and Punishment

Willie Jerome Manning and Michelle Byrom were the last two people the state of Mississippi attempted to execute.

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Declining Federal Highway Funds Hurt Mississippi

As Mississippi leaders study ways to deal with the state's crumbling highways and bridges, declining federal funds aren't helping the situation.

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Delbert Hosemann Seeks Third Term

Republican Delbert Hosemann made it official that he will seek a third term as Mississippi secretary of state.

Saturday, February 21

Hood Running for 4th Term as Mississippi Attorney General

Jim Hood filed papers Friday to run for a fourth term as Mississippi attorney general, saying he considered retiring and going into private law practice but still has things he wants to accomplish as the state's top legal officer.

Friday, February 20

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Sheriff Tyrone Lewis Prevails in Bailiff Dispute

It is up to Hinds County Sheriff Tyrone Lewis, not local judges, to hire and assign courtroom bailiffs, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

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Wilma Mosley Clopton

This year, Wilma Mosley Clopton, owner, filmmaker and chief producer for NMHS Unlimited Film Productions, will partner with Women for Progress of MS Inc. to celebrate African American history with the "It's About You" film festival Feb. 24-28.

Same-Sex Couple Marries in Texas Under One-Time Order

Defying Texas' longstanding ban on gay marriage, a lesbian couple wed in Austin after being granted a marriage license on Thursday under a special court order because one of the women has cancer.

Snowden Leak: NSA Helped British Steal Cell Phone Codes

Britain's electronic spying agency, in cooperation with the U.S. National Security Agency, hacked into the networks of a Dutch company to steal codes that allow both governments to seamlessly eavesdrop on mobile phones worldwide, according to the documents given to journalists by Edward Snowden.

800,000 Customers Given Wrong Tax Info

About 800,000 customers got the wrong tax information from the government, the Obama administration said Friday, and officials are asking those affected to delay filing their 2014 returns.

Fighting Still Rages in East Ukraine Despite Cease-Fire

The Ukrainian government and the separatist rebels blamed each other Friday for violating a fragile cease-fire dozens of times, sparking fears of wider hostilities in war-torn eastern Ukraine.

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Judicial Watchdog Agency Seeks Suspension for Madison Judge

A judicial watchdog commission is asking the Mississippi Supreme Court to suspend a Madison County judge recently arrested for simple assault on a vulnerable person.

State to Study Separate District for Troubled Schools

The State Board of Education is likely to study a new plan to create a separate statewide school district in Mississippi to take over troubled schools and school districts.

Thursday, February 19

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Vicki Slater Announces Governor Candidacy

Democrat Vicki Slater announced her candidacy for governor Thursday morning on the platform of better jobs, better education and better healthcare.

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Raymond Cotton

Things were supposed to be easy on the football field for Raymond Cotton. He was a member of the 2008 ESPN Elite 11 quarterbacks, along with Geno Smith, Tajh Boyd, Garrett Gilbert, A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger and Tom Savage, all of whom were drafted into the NFL.

FDA Issues Warning as Peanuts Found in Cumin Spice

Hundreds of products are being pulled from store shelves after traces of peanut were found in ground cumin spice—a life-threatening danger to some people with peanut allergies.

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Vaccination Exemptions and Outbreaks by State

A measles outbreak originating at Disneyland in California has infected more than 120 people across 14 states since December.

White House: Higher Wages Needed to Make up for Stagnation

President Barack Obama's top economists say that even as the U.S. has managed to kick start a lasting and growing recovery, modest wage gains are far from making up for decades of paycheck stagnation for middle-class workers.

Nearly 40 Percent of Wal-Mart's US Workers to Get Pay Raises

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is spending $1 billion to make changes to how it pays and trains U.S. hourly workers as the embattled retailer tries to reshape the image that its stores offer dead-end jobs.

Tsarnaev Lawyers to Ask Higher Court to Move Bombing Trial

Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have asked a judge three times to move his trial out of Massachusetts because of the emotional impact of the deadly attack. Three times, the judge has refused.

Kerry: Fighting Extremism Requires More than Military Action

In the fight against violent extremism, President Barack Obama has argued the U.S. has one thing going for it that Europe doesn't: a long tradition of warmly embracing its immigrants, including Muslims.

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Jackson Abortion Clinic's Fate Up to SCOTUS

Mississippi is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to let it enforce an abortion law that had been declared unconstitutional by a lower court.

Wednesday, February 18

MAEP Gets Slight Boost in Draft Budget

Mississippi legislators are working on early proposals to fund state government during the year that begins July 1.

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Livingston Reborn

For Ron Guerieri, one of the partners at Livingston Mercantile, everything old is new again. Seated at a table at The Gathering, the restaurant side of the property, he explains the venue's concept as a throwback in time that's also part of a "rebirth of Livingston."

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The Anti-Vax Paradox: Pitting Parental Freedom Against Children’s Health

Rebecca Estepp is a San Diego mother whose son Eric developed a fever after his Hepatitis B shot when he was 9 months old. Estepp blames vaccinations for her son's eventually diagnosed autism.

Lawmakers: Stop Playing Politics with People’s Lives, Especially Children

We're grateful that, at least on the vaccination front, conspiracy theories and pseudo science haven't kept the state from requiring sensible vaccinations for children, while allowing some room for exemptions.

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Stinker Quote of the Week: 'Abysmal'

Mississippi's public-education system may be challenged by chronic generational poverty and woeful underfunding, among other things, but one would be hard-pressed to say the state of education is abysmal in the face of so many success stories, which include Bryant.

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Need a Ride to Work?

Rev. Cletus: "This is your car-selling pastor closing out another blessed broadcast from Ghetto Science Team Radio. Before I sign off, I want to share my thoughts about Mr. James Robertson of Detroit, Michigan. This blessed brother's amazing and inspirational story captured the hearts of the people. "

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‘One Man, Two Guvnors’: Controlled Mayhem

Before the actors hit the boards for an early "stumble-through" rehearsal of "One Man, Two Guvnors" at New Stage Theatre, Joe Frost straps on knee and elbow pads and uses the crook of a cane to massage a sore back muscle, while Jessica Wilkerson practices a tricky bit of her English accent.

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The Apache Relay: Charmed Elixir

The Apache Relay is bringing its charmed elixir of Americana, folk and alternative-rock, swirled into the three-minute pop-song format, back to American soil.

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Meddling in Foreign Policy Could Cost State

With the same gusto as with last year's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Mississippi lawmakers are advancing new laws that appear to have little real effect.

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Common Core Rollback Leads a Week of Capitol Politics

While the Mississippi Legislature advances several pieces of substantial legislation, some lawmakers appear to be gearing up to seek higher office. And voters this year will be subjected to new party primary rules due to a bill that the House passed Feb. 12.

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Siemens, City Headed for Showdown?

After months of complaints from residents about uncharacteristically large water bills, slow progress on the city-wide installation of 65,000 new water meters and skepticism about the prudence of a $90 million deal with Siemens AG, the city's public works director has halted the project as city and company officials scramble to figure out what went wrong and who will pay for the mistakes.

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Jackson Needs Talent, Technology and Tolerance

There's significant opportunity for Jackson to be a hub of creativity and productivity by connecting some important dots.

At Summit, Obama Aims to Broaden World Approach to Extremism

The summit President Barack Obama is convening Wednesday on the threat of violent extremism is not the summit he envisioned.

Home Cookin’ Capsule

Callaway High School basketball played on national television (ESPNU) Saturday night and defeated Dominican High School (Whitefish Bay, Wi.) 76-47 behind 31 points from star Malik Newman. 

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Jillian Romano

When Chicago native Jillian Romano graduated from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn., in 2008, she decided to get down to brass tacks.

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Pep Talk by Mullen, Prescott, Hughes

The capital city, along with organizer Parents and Kids Magazine, hosted the annual Metro Jackson College Fair Feb. 11. Junior and senior high school students packed the Jackson Convention Complex to learn more about the universities and colleges in and out of the state.

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A Big Hit for Mississippi Baseball

After a period of declining offense and interest, the NCAA switched to a new baseball with flatter seams in hope of raising scores and ramping up excitement from the fans. 

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LGBTQ Americans Need Support of Everyday Folk

Now, with marriage equality poised to become the law of the land when the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the cases coming out of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, many of us have begun to raise awareness of the dangers of being a member of the LGBTQ community.

Tuesday, February 17

Ukraine Soldiers Taken Prisoner in Fighting for Railway Hub

Under a near-constant barrage of artillery fire, Ukrainian forces and separatist rebels fought Tuesday for control of the strategic railway hub of Debaltseve, a battle impeding implementation of a peace plan.

Senator: Next Round of US-Cuba Talks Next Week

A new round of negotiations to restore full diplomatic ties with Cuba will take place next week in Washington and a delegation of U.S. senators said Tuesday they were hopeful the two sides would reach a deal soon.

France: Tracking 400 Believed to be in Terror Sleeper Cells

France is tracking hundreds of people believed to belong to possible sleeper cells for terror organizations like al-Qaida or the Islamic State group, the country's top security official said.

Egypt's el-Sissi Wants a UN-Backed Coalition on Libya

Egypt's president said in a radio interview aired on Tuesday that creating a U.N.-backed coalition was the best course of action to rid Libya of Islamic extremists.

Uneasy Alliance of Kurds, Shiites Formed in Northern Iraq

Shiite militiamen shuttle back and forth to the nearby front lines from a sprawling military base near the northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk. They hoist billboards of their commander, bellow Shiite prayers from mosque loudspeakers and chant the name of their spiritual leader.

Danish Intelligence: No Sign Gunman was Planning Attacks

Despite a warning from prison authorities that the gunman behind a weekend shooting spree in Copenhagen was at risk of being radicalized in jail, Danish intelligence officials insisted Tuesday they had no reason to believe he was plotting attacks after his release.

Federal Judge Stalls Obama's Executive Action on Immigration

The White House promised an appeal Tuesday after a federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration and gave a coalition of 26 states time to pursue a lawsuit aiming to permanently stop the orders.

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Ilyasah Shabazz

Malcolm X's daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, challenged students at Jackson State University this morning to "take up the baton" for the rights of African Americans.

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Hinds County Races Take Shape

As statewide candidates garner most of the attention from pundits and observers, three of the top jobs in Hinds County government are also drawing challenges, which could set up interesting contests in the Democratic primary election.

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Kroger Still Closing, Ratepayers Getting Kemper Refund

Despite efforts to save the Kroger on Terry Road, residents are preparing for its closure at the end of February.

Miss. Senator Says She Plans to Alter Iran Divestment Bill

A Mississippi state senator trying to curtail investments in Iran says she's reworking the bill over concerns that it could hurt the state's ability to work with automaker Toyota Motor Corp.

Monday, February 16

Sen. Chris McDaniel for Lieutenant Governor?

A Facebook group page in support of Sen. Chris McDaniel changed its name to "Friends of Chris McDaniel for Lieutenant Governor."

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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, February 13

Google Asks Judge to Block Miss. Attorney General's Inquiry

An Internet giant was scheduled to face off with Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood on Friday. Google will ask U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate to block an investigation by Hood into the company.

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State Supreme Court Orders New Trial for Death Row Prisoner Manning

Willie Jerome Manning, one of the last people the state of Mississippi attempted to execute, will get a new trial, the Mississippi Supreme Court ordered on Feb. 12.

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Advocates Press for Uninsured to Get Special Enrollment Option After They See Tax Penalties

Sunday’s deadline for signing up for health insurance on the exchanges will have long passed by the time many people file their taxes this March and April. But that may be the first time it sinks in for some people that they owe a penalty for not having insurance last year.

FBI Examining 3 Slain in NC; Family Says It Was Hate Crime

Muslim groups planned to take their demands for a federal hate-crime investigation of three young Muslims slain in North Carolina to the White House on Friday.

More Alabama Counties Start Granting Gay Marriage Licenses

More initially reluctant Alabama probate judges began issuing gay marriage licenses Friday after a federal judge strongly suggested that her order striking down the state's same-sex marriage ban should apply statewide.

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White Judge Accused of Assault, Race Abuse Indicted

Madison County Justice Court Judge Bill Weisenberger has been indicted and arrested for allegedly assaulting a mentally disabled black man in Canton last year.

House Votes to Make Expired Business Tax Breaks Permanent

The House voted Friday to make permanent an expired tax break designed to help small businesses invest in equipment and property, defying a veto threat by the White House.

Mississippi House Passes Bill Mandating Execution Secrecy

The Mississippi House has passed a bill that not only makes the details surrounding state executions secret, but allows lawsuits against anyone who discloses the secrets.

Thursday, February 12

Court: Miss. Power Ordered to Refund Kemper Rate Hikes

Mississippi Power Company has been ordered to refund its customers for a rate increase put into effect in 2013 to begin paying for Kemper County power plant it is building.

US Gov't Says Nearly 64M Vehicles Were Recalled Last Year

Government statistics show that automakers issued 803 recalls totaling almost 64 million vehicles in the U.S. last year, more than double the old record set a decade earlier.

Senate Confirms Obama's Pick for Pentagon Chief

The Senate on Thursday confirmed President Barack Obama's choice to run the Pentagon, handing Ash Carter the unenviable task of steering the military as the United States confronts Islamic State militants, conflict in Ukraine and other worldwide threats.

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Tony Bahou

It was a no-brainer for former TV sports anchor Tony Bahou when the position for president and CEO of Special Olympics Mississippi opened up in July 2014.

Marathon Talks Produce Ukraine Peace Deal; Cease-Fire Sunday

Guns would fall silent, heavy weapons would pull back from the front and Ukraine would trade a broad autonomy for the east to get back control of its Russian border by the end of 2015 under a peace deal hammered out Thursday in all-night negotiations between Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany.

House Bill Would Clarify Who Can Vote in Primary Runoffs

A bill clarifying who can vote in party primary runoffs is moving forward.

Image of Gay Couple in Russia Wins World Press Photo

An atmospheric image of a gay couple in Russia by Danish photographer Mads Nissen was crowned the World Press Photo of the Year 2014 on Thursday.

Ukraine Gets New Bailout Deal from IMF

The International Monetary Fund has agreed to give Ukraine a new bailout deal worth 15.5 billion euro ($17.5 billion) that could climb to around $40 billion over four years with help from other lenders like Europe and the U.S.

EU Leaders Set to Debate Anti-Terror Measures

Galvanized by the recent terror attacks in France, European Union leaders on Thursday are debating a range of ambitious steps to better protect their 28 nations, including exchanging airliner passenger manifests, tightening controls at the border and combating extremism on the Internet.

Miss. Lawmakers Working to Change State Contract Process

The Mississippi House has passed a bill designed to bring more public scrutiny to state government contracts.

Wednesday, February 11

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Senate Doozies: Big Votes on Common Core, Special Needs, Car Stickers

In the Senate, over six hours of debate resulted in lawmakers moving to repeal the Motor Vehicle Safety Inspection Law, ask the federal government to balance their budget, enact the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs and create a commission to replace Common Core standards.

Leaders in Minsk for Crucial Ukraine Peace Talks

The leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine negotiated into the early hours Thursday to try to find a way to halt the fighting in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 5,300 people.

Obama Asks Fresh War Powers, Says IS Group 'Going to Lose'

Vowing that Islamic State forces are "going to lose," President Barack Obama urged Congress on Wednesday to authorize military action against terrorists who are cutting a swath across the Middle East. Yet he ruled out large-scale U.S. ground combat operations reminiscent of Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Report: Miss. No. 2 in Lynchings Per Capita

A chilling new report revealed this week reveals that racial terror lynching in the U.S. was much worse than previously believed.

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New Thai

If you enjoy the mix of tanginess, spice and sweetness that is Thai food, you'll soon have another option to choose from in Jackson. Surin of Thailand (3000 Old Canton Road) opens soon in the former Nick's Restaurant space.

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All that Matters is Love

I think it is important to let my loved one know that he is important every day of my life. When Valentine's Day comes, I don't feel so much pressure about giving a gift such as chocolates or flowers, but I like to remind my significant other that he is loved by making a special dinner.

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The Fatality of a Broken Heart

Billy Ray Cyrus sang a song about a topic that is also a medically recognized syndrome commonly called broken heart syndrome.

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Five Foolproof First-Date Stops

There's an art to the first date—an awkward, nerve-wracking, constantly on-your-toes art. Thankfully, this year's Best of Jackson Best Place for a First Date finalists are perfect choices for a romantic evening, whatever that means to you.

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Single in the Capital

Up until a year ago, I complained that there is nothing to do in the Jackson area. What I've discovered, though, is that there is a lot more to do than I thought, especially since I'm single.

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The Swon Brothers: Life After ‘The Voice'

Television might have taken the wind out of radio's sails, but these days, it's giving it back. There's perhaps no clearer evidence of that than Muskogee, Okla., musicians Colton and Zach Swon.

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Love on a Fat Tuesday

If you don't want to cook for Valentine's Day or fight the crowds in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, local restaurants and food shops have you covered.

Don’t Prematurely Nix Prison Reform

It really doesn't come as a big surprise that an effort is now under way to scale back last year's package of sweeping criminal-justice reform bills.

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Stinker Quote of the Week: 'Statistical'

As Mississippi's prison system, which has been plagued by scandal, remains under a microscope for the alleged misdeeds of its former commissioner, it would be nice if the agency could at least keep all the tools at its disposal to close the revolving door at prisons.

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The Greatest of These Is Love

I'm thinking a lot about love these days. As of Feb. 9, in my hometown of Birmingham, Ala., same-sex couples can go to the same courthouse office that my husband and I went to in 2008 to fill out some paperwork, pay a fee and get legally recognized as a married couple.

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Revving Up for the Big Fights

The Mississippi Legislature is preparing for the big fights that come later in the session, now that the Senate and House cleared most routine, non-controversial items off their calendars in this fifth week of the session.

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Prison Reform Target of Rollback

In March 2014, in an uncommon show of unity, the state's three top Republican leaders celebrated the passage of game-changing legislation.

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Development Catches Fondren Residents Off Guard

Fondren residents started noticing several rundown houses in January with siding missing and a big, red "X" painted across their doors. Each day, more homes became vacant and began to disappear.

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Loving Beyond Fear

The twisting of religion to promote and excuse hate, separation and violence over love, togetherness and safety turned me off from organized faith for a long time, and I still don't quite trust churches enough to attend any particular one regularly.

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Jackson: New Rankin County Wastewater Plant is Unlawful

Although City of Jackson officials are doing their best to appear collegial to entities they fear are attempting to force Jackson into a new regional wastewater authority, the city seems poised to play a little hardball of its own.

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JPS Game Calls for Venue Change

It was supposed to be the showcase act for the main event in Jackson Public Schools athletics: big-time high school basketball. Unfortunately, the actual stage used wasn't nearly big enough.  

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Pamela Shaw

As a senior manager, entrepreneur and public-policy analyst, Pamela Shaw is the seasoned and outspoken president and founder of P3 Strategies, a company that specializes in government relations, lobbying, management consulting and other services.

Home Cookin’ Capsule

Mississippi State University women's basketball is No. 13 in the AP Top 25 poll after a home win over Texas A&M. Morgan William picked up SEC Freshman of the Week honors.

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Male Privilege: I Am the Problem

As men, some of us are likely to "gag" every single time the issue of male privilege comes up. Though we gag, that still doesn't negate the fact that we are "sick" and need to swallow the "pill" that we are a contributors to and beneficiaries of the deeply rooted male privilege in our society.

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Family Business

Even before the Super Bowl, a battle that could affect the Saints' offseason began in New Orleans. Things turned extremely ugly and public after the family of Saints owner Tom Benson, 87, filed a lawsuit claiming that he was unfit to run his NFL and NBA franchises.

Tuesday, February 10

3 Sentenced to Prison in James Craig Anderson Murder

Three people were sentenced to federal prison Tuesday, following a hate crimes investigation stemming from the death of a black man who was beaten and run over by a truck in Mississippi.

Longtime Aide: Obama Misled on Early Gay Marriage Opposition

President Barack Obama feigned opposition to gay marriage for most of his political career, compromising his true beliefs out of concern it could hurt him with voters, Obama's longtime political adviser disclosed in a new book.

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New Civil Rights Museum on Track For Completion

In former Gov. Haley Barbour's address Tuesday morning about the progress of the state's new civil rights museum, he stressed the importance of not only recognizing Mississippi's history, but improving the city of Jackson.

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Jesse Harris

The murders of Mack Charles Parker and Emmett Till in Money were the catalysts for Jesse Harris' lifetime of working for voting rights and social justice across the South.

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Jackson: A Great Place for Art, Food and Black Businesses

Flowood native Sean Alexander will open Zeek'z House of Gyros (132 Lakeland Heights Blvd., 601-919-9832) Monday, Feb. 16, next to the Flowood Walmart.

SpaceX Tries Again to Launch Observatory, Land Rocket at Sea

SpaceX is taking another stab Tuesday at launching an observatory into deep space and landing the booster that carries it up.

Obama to Send His New War Powers Request to Capitol Hill

The White House was ready to share with lawmakers Tuesday its plan to seek authority for the use of military force against the Islamic State group, setting up the first war vote in Congress in 13 years.

Fighting Intensifies in Eastern Ukraine Ahead of Peace Talks

Fighting intensified Tuesday in eastern Ukraine ahead of much-anticipated peace talks, with both sides claiming significant advances.

Parents of American Woman Held by IS Notified of Her Death

Kayla Jean Mueller, a 26-year-old American woman held by Islamic State militants, has been confirmed dead, her parents and the Obama administration said Tuesday.

From Jordan Base, UAE Resumes Airstrikes on Islamic State

United Arab Emirates fighter planes roared out of an air base in Jordan on Tuesday to pound Islamic State militant positions, marking a return to combat operations by one of the United States' closest Arab allies in the fight against the extremists.

Sentencing for 3 in Racial Beatings that Killed Man

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves is scheduled to sentence Deryl Paul Dedmon, John Aaron Rice and Dylan Wade Butler on Tuesday.

Monday, February 9

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It's Official: Kenny Stokes is Back on City Council

"He's back," a man shouted from the back corner of Jackson's crammed city council chamber this morning upon newly re-elected Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes's completion of the oath of office.

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Analysis: New Democrat Johnson Has Tough Campaign Ahead

Former state Sen. Tim Johnson jumped from Republican to Democrat last week to launch his campaign for Mississippi lieutenant governor, and he faces a difficult path in a state where the GOP controls seven of eight statewide offices and both chambers of the Legislature.

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Anne Moody

Anne Moody, whose memoir "Coming of Age in Mississippi" gave a wrenching account of growing up poor in the segregated South and facing violence as a civil rights activist, died Thursday at her home in the small town Gloster, Mississippi. She was 74.

Old Questions About Saudi Arabia, 9-11 Raised Anew

For years, some current and former American officials have been urging President Barack Obama to release secret files they say document links between the government of Saudi Arabia and the Sept. 11 attacks.

EU Puts Off Fresh Russia Sanctions Awaiting Minsk Talks

The European Union decided Monday to hold off temporarily on slapping sanctions on more Russians and Ukrainian separatists and await the outcome of possible peace talks later this week.

Alabama Begins Issuing Marriage Licenses to Gay Couples

Alabama began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Monday despite an 11th-hour attempt from the state's chief justice—an outspoken opponent—to block the weddings.

Sunday, February 8

Grammys: Sam Smith Wins Record, Song and New Artist; Beck Takes Top Album

Sam Smith was the king of the Grammys, taking home three of the top four awards, including song and record of the year for "Stay With Me," and best new artist, while Beck won album of the year.

Friday, February 6

GOP Rep. Nunnelee Dies After Brain Cancer, Stroke

U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee of Mississippi, a fiscal and social conservative elected to Congress in a Republican wave of 2010, died Friday. He was 56.

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Jackson Fights Takeover of Sewer System

The City of Jackson is fighting what its officials call an all-out assault from a Rankin County utility to take control of Jackson's profitable water-treatment facilities.

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Malcolm Butler

It only seems fitting that former Vicksburg and Hinds Community College star Malcolm Butler made the game-winning play in the Super Bowl.

German, French Leaders Take Ukraine Peace Effort to Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of France and Germany began talks Friday on a new proposal for ending the fighting in eastern Ukraine.

Abortion Statistics Bill Copies Existing Law

The Mississippi Senate has voted to make the state keep track of how many women die because of abortion.

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Lethal Rejection: Will the Supreme Court's Lethal Injection Review Kill the Death Penalty?

If the nation's top court strikes down Oklahoma's lethal injection procedure, what would it mean for the death penalty? We've asked the experts what you need to know.

Mexican Officials Find 61 Abandoned Bodies at Funeral Home

Sixty-one rotting bodies have been found in an abandoned crematorium near Acapulco after neighbors complained to authorities about a foul smell coming from the building, officials said Friday.

Obama: US Must Resist Urge to 'Overreach" Abroad

President Barack Obama says the United States must resist the urge to "overreach" abroad, as he outlined a new national security strategy Friday that is meant to serve as a blueprint for his final two years in office.

Thursday, February 5

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50 Years of #BlackLivesMatter: Freedom Summer to Ferguson

Recently, Jackson activists along with the Veterans of Mississippi Civil Rights Movement Inc., the Tougaloo College National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Gamma Upsilon chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha met at Tougaloo's historic Woodworth Chapel for a panel discussion titled "From Freedom Summer to Ferguson: The Value of Black life in 'Post Racial America.'"

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Chung-Fan Chang

Growing up, paintings and decorations from western and eastern masters surrounded Jackson artist Chung-Fan Chang in her home in Taiwan.

UN: Islamic State Torturing, Killing Children in Iraq

The United Nations says the Islamic State group is systematically killing, torturing and raping children and families of minority groups in Iraq, and it is calling on government forces there to do more to protect them.

NATO Official: Alliance to Beef Up Response Force

NATO's is set to more than double the size of its Response Force in response to Russian actions in Ukraine and the challenge of Islamic extremism, the head of the military alliance announced Thursday.

AP-GfK Poll: Support of Gay Marriage Comes with Caveats

While finding that Americans narrowly favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry, a new Associated Press-GfK poll also shows most believe wedding-related businesses should be allowed to deny service to same-sex couples for religious reasons.

Jordan Launches New Airstrikes After Vowing Harsh War on IS

Jordanian warplanes bombed Islamic State targets on Thursday, state TV said, after the country's king vowed to wage a "harsh" war against the militants who control large areas of neighboring Syria and Iraq.

Hackers Access Records for Millions of Anthem Customers

Health insurer Anthem said hackers infiltrated its computer network and gained access to personal information for "tens of millions" of customers and employees, including CEO Joseph Swedish.

Nigerian Extremists Kill Dozens of Civilians in Cameroon

Boko Haram fighters have shot or burned to death about 90 civilians and wounded 500 in ongoing fighting in a Cameroonian border town near Nigeria, officials in Cameroon said Thursday.

Top NATO General Warns of Russian Reaction to Arming Ukraine

The top NATO commander warned Thursday that any move to provide Ukraine with lethal defensive weapons must take into account any possible angry reaction from Russia.

French, German Leaders Push New Peace Plan for East Ukraine

In a new push for peace, the leaders of France and Germany headed Thursday to Kiev and Moscow with a proposal to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine.

House Passes Bills Opposing Foreign Law and United Nations

Some Mississippi lawmakers want to ban state courts from using or enforcing foreign law or participating in United Nations-inspired sustainable development efforts.

Wednesday, February 4

Ex-GOP Sen. Tim Johnson Switches Parties to Run Against Tate Reeves

Former state Sen. Tim Johnson of Madison is switching from Republican to Democrat to run for lieutenant governor of Mississippi.

The Slate

How quickly can the Super Bowl change? The first half saw former CFL player Chris Matthews as the unknown hero and ended with Vicksburg native Malcolm Butler as the hero of the day.

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Winning in the Classroom

It was a great college football season for a lot of fans in Mississippi. Both Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi had seasons to remember, and Alcorn State University won the SWAC Football Championship Game.

Sports Follows of the Week

The sports world has moved to social media like everything else. Here are four Twitter follows you'll want to hit and won't regret this week

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A Sporting State

The most exciting football season in Mississippi's memory came to a fitting close Sunday night, with little-known Vicksburg and Hinds Community College product Malcolm Butler playing Super Bowl hero and stealing the show on the game's biggest stage. 

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Sam Hunt Conquers the Learning Curve

Country singer-songwriter Sam Hunt has only been performing for about seven years, but he's already made a name for himself as a certified hit-maker.

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Sketching a Plan for Jackson: The JFP Interview with Mayor Tony Yarber

Mayor Tony Yarber recently invited the Jackson Free Press to the ceremonial mayor's office on City Hall's first floor to discuss his views on napkining, infrastructure financing, his trip to the nation's capital, the political rumor mill and how not to get racially profiled in Walmart.

Don’t Politicize Special-Needs Education

Recent legislative deliberations, which come in the context of a larger debate over Mississippi's education crisis, have a whiff of election-year pandering in the same way politicians try to churn fears about terrorism with soccer moms in presidential election years.

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Stinker Quote of the Week: 'Chained'

No, we don't keep women chained to stoves down here in Mississippi—but we do plenty else that's harmful.

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Like A Tree Without Roots

Miss Doodle Mae: "Jojo's Discount Dollar Store is ready to educate the Ghetto Science Community during Black History Month with the 'From Here to Timbuktu Sale.'

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A Foreign Experience

Chef Yana Gilbuena worked with La Finestra on a pop-up menu which included items such as razor clams, sweet breads and duck.

Legislature Status: Bills We're Watching

Lawmakers had a Feb. 3 deadline. Here's what made it and what didn't.

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Caught in the Action

For the first time in the Deep South, "Civil War Drawings from The Becker Collection" is on exhibition at the Mississippi Museum of Art.

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No Legislation Is Dead Until It’s Dead

It's election year in Mississippi, and that means that state legislators will go for the controversial jugular if it might translate into votes back in the home district.

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Farish Street Still in the Balance

During the day, little is happening on Farish Street. As most people know, plans to redevelop the historic street, which once stood as the central-business-district for Jackson's African American community, lagged for years only before new hope met a legal morass in 2012.

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Despite Henley-Young Report, Frank Bluntson Says ‘I’m Calling the Shots’

On Oct. 18, 2014, a teenage boy was booked into the Henley-Young Juvenile Justice Center. The boy has bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and the facility's medical staff did not believe he should be admitted because the jail lacked the resources to treat the young man's mental illness.

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Special Ed: ‘It’s Been a Rollercoaster’

Many educators, disability advocate Mandy Rogers said, don't know the procedures regarding students with special needs, such as what kinds of disabilities, like dyslexia, are covered under disability law.

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Trish Hammons

Custom Optical has been in Fondren for 26 years, and though the store has only been in owner Trish Hammons' hands since 2006, she's made it an eyewear staple in the Jackson area, especially if you want something a little out of the ordinary.

US Will Back Dissidents in Cuba; Poll Shows Support for Thaw

The Obama administration's lead negotiator with Cuba is vowing to maintain U.S. support for democracy and human rights activists there as she pushes to restore embassies between the countries after a half-century interruption.

NATO Ministers to Meet on Russia, Upgrading Response Force

With NATO officials calling Russia more unpredictable now than during the Cold War, alliance defense ministers on Thursday are expected to approve further measures to enhance the organization's ability to deter and, if necessary, respond to military threats from Moscow, officials said.

Jordan, Shaken by Islamic State Killing, Executes 2 Inmates

Jordan's king rushed home Wednesday, cutting short a U.S. trip, to rally public support for even tougher strikes against the Islamic State group after the militants released a video showing a captured Jordanian pilot being burned to death in a cage.

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Why I Fight for Education Funding

Only about 30 percent of student achievement comes from in-school factors such as teachers, principals and class size; almost 70 percent comes from outside factors such as poverty, parents and access to resources.

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Superheroes in Jackson?

I always want to imagine what it would be like if Jackson had superheroes. It's got the right atmosphere for a comic book world—varied types of architecture, slums, an overwhelming sense of hope in the air (yes, I believe in that).

Tuesday, February 3

Purported IS Video Shows Jordan Pilot Burned to Death

A video released online Tuesday purportedly showed a Jordanian pilot captured by the Islamic State extremist group in Syria being burned to death by his captors following a weeklong drama over a possible prisoner exchange.

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South Jackson Kroger Closure Causes Alarm

Residents in south Jackson are working feverishly to make sure their neighborhood doesn't become a food desert when the Kroger on Terry Road closes later this month.

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Rep. Deborah Dixon

Rep. Deborah Dixon's personal experience led her to work on a bill over the last few years that would revise Mississippi's hate-crime law.

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Rosa Parks' Archive Opening to Public at Library of Congress

Beginning Wednesday at the Library of Congress, researchers and the public will have full access to Rosa Parks' archive of letters, writings, personal notes and photographs for the first time.

Reluctant Islamic State Fighters Choose Between Death, Jail

While foreigners from across the world have joined the Islamic State militant group, some find day-to-day life in Iraq or Syria much more austere and violent than they had expected. These disillusioned new recruits also soon discover that it is a lot harder to leave than to join.

S&P Paying $1.38B to Settle Charges Over Crisis-Era Ratings

Standard & Poor's is paying about $1.38 billion to settle government allegations that it knowingly inflated its ratings of risky mortgage investments that helped trigger the financial crisis, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

UK House of Commons OKs Making Babies from DNA of 3 People

British lawmakers in the House of Commons voted Tuesday to allow scientists to create babies from the DNA of three people—a move that could prevent some children from inheriting potentially fatal diseases from their mothers.

Monday, February 2

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State Might Sell Hal & Mal's Property

A legislative proposal would allow for the sale or lease of state-owned property that now houses Hal & Mal's, a restaurant and music venue.

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Aunjanue Ellis

Mississippi actress Aunjanue Ellis, who has previously played important roles in works such as "The Help" and "Men of Honor," is now playing the main character Aminata Diallo in the six-part television miniseries "The Book of Negroes."

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A 50th Anniversary Few Remember: LBJ's Warning on Carbon Dioxide

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the first presidential mention of the environmental risk of carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fuels.

Sunday, February 1

New England wins Super Bowl with Last-Minute Interception by Vicksburg Native Malcolm Butler

The Patriots (15-4) had to survive a last-ditch drive by the Seahawks (14-5), who got to the 1, helped by a spectacular juggling catch by Jermaine Kearse. Then Rookie Malcolm Butler stepped in front of Ricardo Lockette to pick off Russell Wilson's pass and complete one of the wildest Super Bowl finishes.