Stories for January 2008


Thursday, January 31

Winter Wednesdays in February

Here and Now: the Missississippi Improv Alliance

I wanted to bring your attention to something cool going on in the month of February, brought to you by the Jackson Arts Collective. Here is the press release I received:

Wednesday, January 30

Finding An Organic Balance

The very day after I got my driver's license, my mother handed me the keys to her forest-green minivan and gave me a grocery list. I thought getting my license would allow me to visit the local coffee shop whenever I wanted, have Saturday lunch with friends and never have to wait three hours after ballet class for a ride. My mother, however, thought it meant her days of playing chauffeur for my numerous siblings and making grocery store runs were over.

Bart Heath

Bart Heath didn't go to culinary school. He's not vegan or vegetarian, and he admits, "I couldn't even cook a grilled cheese when I was 18 and a senior in high school." And yet, the Gulfport native is the new head chef at Jackson's premier vegan and vegetarian-friendly restaurant, High Noon Café.

Things That Make You Go Boom

The band director walked in the door of the Mississippi Museum of Art.

Week 3: Cigs and Cells

Now that House Speaker Billy McCoy has named committee chairs, the House is going into overdrive regarding bill production.

Bill to Hamstring AG Office?

Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and the Mississippi Senate are pressing for a new law that would force a competitive bidding process on plaintiff lawyers looking to contract with the Mississippi attorney general's office. Bryant and some senators say the bill, which they call a "sunshine law," will further open attorney general/private attorney contracts to public inspection.

Hometown Pride

Back from Utah (where Ballast cleaned up—it was the only movie to win TWO Sundance awards in the Dramatic Competition —Excellence in Cinematography and narrative Directing), I'm trying to heal (my sad knee and sore throat) and re-acclimate to waking at 8 a.m. and other mundane tasks, such as laundry, dishes and deadlines. And, as happens this time of year, I am turning my thoughts towards Crossroads.

We Hid It. So?

A U.S. congressional investigation by a House Science and Technology subcommittee revealed what many FEMA trailer residents have known for years—FEMA was hiding its knowledge of the incredible toxicity level of formaldehyde in FEMA trailer building material.

[Gigs] From Ole Miss to Al Jazeera

Annie Kate Pons knows the South. The Old Miss grad was born in Hereford, Texas, the beef capital of the world, and her dad was a cattle rancher. A committed Christian, she used to work for Fox News in Washington, D.C. Now she works for Al Jazeera English, a 24-hour television channel, broadcast by satellite to 100 million households worldwide.

Stop Removing Kids from School

On Jan. 21, young Mississippi students traveled across the state, converging in front of the state capitol. They arrived carrying their hopes, dreams, passions. They also carried the dreams of young people who could not be there, who could not publicly stake their claim on their education, and voice their demands for reform. These young people are lost in the system, their voices slowly shrinking back in insecurity and self-loathing. They are the product of an education system that lawmakers and caregivers have seriously handicapped in its effort to effectively discipline the students for whom it exists, while providing them with a free, quality education.

[Sue Doh Nem] Getting It Together

Cootie McBride: "On behalf of the McBride Family Center for Helping Everyone Get Their Act Together in the New Millennium, I want to thank everyone for attending the state of emergency conference titled 'Self Destructive Tendencies Within a Recessive World.'

[Kamikaze] Et Tu, Bill?

You were my favorite. Maybe you still are. I hailed you as the greatest president of all time. I didn't go so far as a lot of folks did in declaring you the county's first "black" president, but you were damn close. That's why I'm hurt that you have become so vicious, so "un-sportsmanlike" in your demeanor in recent days. You appear rattled. Why the venom?

[Mott] The Past is Now

The annual Jackson Free Press "Best of Jackson" party is always a blast. This year, as I looked around at the hundreds of faces in the crowd, the huge diversity touched me deeply. People were tall, short, white, black, Asian, Latino, old and young—a few folks even brought their kids—gay and straight, rich and poor … well, you get the picture. People were dressed in tiaras and furs, jeans and T-shirts, and everything in between.

Pumps No More?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may pull the plug on plans to build a $220 million flood-control system in the Yazoo River Basin. Environmentalists warned last December that The Yazoo Backwater Project—devised to control flooding along the Yazoo River Basin—would destroy thousands of acres of wetlands.

Corn Hath No Fury: The JFP Interview With Billy McCoy

Photos by Mac Gordon

House Speaker Billy McCoy speaks in a halting stutter at times. A stroke shook his frame in 2004. He has recovered to a point, though the scars are still plain. But they don't slow him down.

running from sniffles

When I walked into the post office this morning, I was scolded for going out in the cold with wet hair.

Tuesday, January 29

Peter Bjorn and John's Peter Morén Releases Debut Solo Album on April 8!

(PB&J) - On April 8, 2008, Quarterstick Records will release the highly anticipated solo album from Peter Morén, the lead singer of Swedish indie megastars Peter Bjorn and John. The Last Tycoon may be Peter's first solo album, but it has been several years in the making. Throughout the hectic years of songwriting, recording and touring with Peter Bjorn and John in support of their infectious breakout album Writer's Block, Peter's pen never rested. Out of that prolific pen emerged an intimate collection of songs that see their writer pondering the difficulties and resolutions of everyday life and the ever-present confusion of approaching late adulthood — according to Peter, "the usual lyrical psychobabble, but with a direct and honest approach."

The Hip-Hop Mayor: Detroit's Kwame Kilpatrick?

Apparently Mr. Kilpatrick's gotten himself in quite a quandry. Again something that has nothing to do particularly with his policy but all the same. Since he ran on a platform of being a child of the hip-hop generation, appearing on Detorit hip-hop stations and what not. Will they try to blame this latest debacle on hip-hop? funny editorial today on Check it out:

Monday, January 28

Bloomberg Factchecks the Clintons

Al Hunt of Bloomberg News dissects what the Obama and Clinton campaigns have been saying about each other—and finds that the Clintons are severely distorting their comments about Obama:

Does Obama Fill America's ‘Unconsummated Desire'?

I'm no fan of the NYT's David Brooks, but this column analyzing the Kennedy embrace of Obama, and the larger implications, is breathtaking. Per Brooks:

Mississippi #2 in corruption?

I saw this press release a few months ago and thought that this would be a good time to share it. (Go here for the actual Justice Department report.)

Peters-DeLaughter Saga: 'Told You So' Time

This past weekend, I was going through 2007 issues of the JFP looking for entries for the AAN awards. I ran into this story that Adam and Brian did last year about Faye Peterson's concerns about Judge Bobby DeLaughter's handling of one of her cases: "Peterson Demands Equal Justice". It seems that JFP story is included in case filings, raising questions about DeLaughter. According to the Folo blog, the motion in Eaton Corp. v. Frisby says the following:

Help the Magnolia School Recover Theft Losses

Attend a benefit Tuesday night (Jan. 29) to help Magnolia Speech School recover from over $100,000 in damages done in Dec. by copper thieves. Featuring The Electric Company, The Scott Albert Johnson Band, Chris Gill and the Sole Shakers and The Juvenators. At Hal and Mal's Restaurant. $5 minimum donation.

McMillin to Bring Back Crime Prevention Unit

Jackson's new police chief said the city is facing big bills this year thanks to overtime and unpaid debt—and is bringing back the Crime Prevention Unit that the mayor disbanded in order to help meet some of the city's policing challenges.

Playin' Hurt in Jacktown

Thank you, Jackson, for being you.

We feel confident in saying that there a few headaches in the Jackson area today after hundreds of people packed into the Mississippi Museum of Art for the JFP's Sixth Annual Best of Jackson party. Local restaurants brought so much food that we had to scramble for extra tables. The beer and the wine from Kat's kept flowing. DJ Phingaprint worked the crowd into a frenzy as usual. Fedoras, pinstripes and flapper dresses were in abundance. The highlight of the night came around 7 p.m. when the JSU Sonic Boom drum line marched from outside straight into the packed museum and to the dance floor to perform. And perform they did. (Rumor has it that members of The Weeks tried to join the drum line later, and June Hardwick later reported that she heard them in her house blocks away.) Oh, yes, Josh Hailey outdid his gold lame jumpsuit from last year. Let's just say that, save for a sombrero and big black moustache and some itty-bitty speedos, he would have been buck naked. What's next year for Josh? We tremble to think.

Sunday, January 27

Caroline Kennedy: Obama Like My Father

The daughter of John F. Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama this weekend on the op-ed page of The New York Times. In a statement that cannot make the Clintons happy, she said that Obama is the first potential president who has inspired her as other people say her father inspired them. Take a read:

Friday, January 25

Sundance Day 8: Ballast on CNN

Okay, so I've been hearing a lot about Ballast . Mostly what I'm hearing is along the lines of, "I LOVE that movie. That's the best movie I've seen at Sundance this year," or, "Oh my gosh, I've heard such great things about that movie!" These comments are streaming from the mouths of my fellow white Americans, which is no huge surprise, because white Americans are exceptionally well-represented in Park City this week.

A Beautiful Day for a Party ...

... and to celebrate Jackson's impending boom! See you at the art museum tonight. Dress anyway you want, up or down; opens to the public at 8 p.m. The first two hours, from 6 to 8 p.m., will be an invitation-only reception, and then the party opens to the public with a cash bar after 8 p.m. We will give awards at 8:15 p.m. DJ Phingaprint will provide the dance music. Free admission.

Thursday, January 24

RIP David Lee Durham

David Lee Durham of Indianola died this morning in Indianola. He was a wonderful, true blues guitarist and vocalist born in 1943. He played with his band, The True Blues Band, several times in Jackson including Shimmels, 930 Blues Cafe, Jesse Robinson's Musicians Ball, and our Blue Monday. He was a member of the Central MS Blues Society. He played many festivals in the US and even Italy. In 2006 he performed at the Lucerne Blues Festival in Switzerland when CMBS member Rick Lewis accompanied him as drummer. His manager is Carol Marble, a founding member of the CMBS, and you can check out her website for information about David, . From manager Carol Marble:


Doing it yourself is the fly thing to do. But if you can't do it yourself, find someone else to do it for you for free.

Get Excited About Downtown - TODAY

Ben Allen and other Jackson mover-shakers are hosting a shindig today at 5:15 p.m. to expose what is going on downtown. In Allen's words, he hopes to see the "JFP Nation" there in droves. The JFP's Todd Stauffer will unveil plans for Boom Jackson, a new glossy magazine about the city's progress. The Downtown Jackson Partners Economic Development Briefing is tonight, Jan. 24, at the MS TelCom Center from 5:15-7:30 pm. Cash bar; free hors d'eourves. Click here for more information.

Sundance Day 7: Because We're All a Little Off

Things are slowing down here in ye olde Jim Shea place. For a few days it's just been the ladies—Nina, Anita and I. Anita and I share what we have fondly dubbed "the Neshoba County Fair Room." It's a hole-in-the-hall, chock with bunks. We've had revolving roommates, but the two of us are consistent (kinda like BFFs), and we think it's cozy, the Clarion Ledger shackin' up with the JFP, and all…

Wednesday, January 23

Willie McKennis

Casually dressed in a black blazer, white dress shirt and blue jeans, Willie McKennis has a full schedule. However, he takes a break to tell the story of his life.

The Best is (Also) Yet to Come

You hold in your hands the culmination of weeks worth of voting, counting, research, photography and writing—the Best of Jackson 2008 issue. It happens to be the biggest issue of the Jackson Free Press ever—and hopefully something you'll be proud to keep around the house or office and refer back to for the ensuing months of this nascent year.

No 'Oversight' Costing City

The Jackson City Council learned during a Tuesday budget meeting that the city has very little oversight on numerous municipal transactions, which is costing the city revenue and could ultimately jeopardize some federal grants. The internal audit also revealed that some checks issued by the city are not clearing one year after issuance, and that the city is not accounting for its fixed assets.

Barbour Pledges to Fund Education

Gov. Haley Barbour named K-12 education as a high priority in his state-of-the-state address Monday night, addressing budget shortfalls and upgrading the state's roads, but his overall message this year was frugal spending.

Toward a Peace Culture

Takashi Teramoto was 10 when "Little Boy" dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945, killing 140,000 Japanese—half instantly, the other half from radiation poisoning. Teramoto is traveling with Steven Leeper, director of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, who often translates for him. Dedicated to eliminating nuclear weapons worldwide, the foundation is funding their tour to 101 U.S. cities, which began late in 2007.

Dodging Bullets

Shorter SessionOne of the first moves the Legislature made this year was to cut its hours.

'Not a Dream Deferred'

It was just past 10 a.m. on Martin Luther King Jr. Day when a group of young people arrived at the state Capitol, crowding in front of the south steps. Gloved hands waving in the cold air, they lifted posters to the sky and chanted "J-U-S-T-I-C-E, for me I'm free, treat me like a human being."

Dare to Be the Best

This week, under a tribute post to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on, reader "justjess" shared a story about keeping his dream alive. She told the story of her friend in Chicago speaking to a group of young men and women. There was no victim stranglehold in her message, which was essentially a call to be the best.

[Sue Doh Nem] Dollar Store Refuge

Miss Doodle Mae: "Greetings, financially challenged shoppers! Welcome to a new year of savings at Jojo's Discount Dollar Store. Jojo still believes I am as articulate as Barack Obama, so he asked me to address loyal and potential customers in these troubled economic times with an encouraging advertisement.

[Hill] Tragedies Yet to Come

Latasha Norman was a promising, attractive young Jackson State University student who was stalked and killed late last year. The man arrested for her murder, Stanley Cole, was a fellow JSU student whom Norman had dated and broken up with. But he allegedly refused to take no for an answer, and continued to harass her for months after their break-up, even after she filed an assault charge against him in October 2007.

Best of Jackson 2008

So you think you're funny, eh? You think this whole thing is hilarious, do yuz? Well, it ain't. It ain't one bit funny. You're lookin' here at the most important stuff you may ever read in your pitiful life. What's left of it.

Best of Jackson 2008

Best Bartender: Trevor Palmer, Club Fire - Club Fire's got to be a hectic place for a bartender. Hundreds of sweating, dance-crazed bodies are thirsty for a drink on Thursday's ladies night, and you know every fan at Fire's live-music weekends has to have a drink in hand to fully enjoy the show. Some people thrive in that environment, and Trevor Palmer is one of those people. Serving as both manager and bartender at Fire, Palmer puts us lethargic folk to shame. But ladies, you do know all those free drinks you're getting weren't Palmer's way of saying he likes you; women drink free on Thursdays.

Attorney General Unveils Legislative Agenda

From a verbatim statement:

Jackson, MS-Attorney General Jim Hood and the Division Directors of the Attorney General's Office revealed the agency's 2008 legislative agenda this morning before Senate Judiciary, Division B, chaired by Senator Gray Tollison.

Tuesday, January 22

Study: 935 ‘Orchestrated' Lies Led Up to Iraqi War

The Associated Press is reporting on a new study that finds that the Bush administration lied repeatedly about the threats in Iraq leading up to the war:

Eli The Cover Boy

Eli Manning, the Big Apple's new football hero, is on the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated. No!, says the New York Daily News.

the ten minute desk makeover

Fix your aches and pains quickly and easily by paying attention to how you sit at your desk.

*First, sit in your desk chair in front of your computer. Make sure that all of your body parts are in neutral positions.*Your head should be facing straight ahead, with your back upright against the back of your seat.*Don't lean your neck to look at the screen. Keep your neck straight and move your chair closer to or further from the computer.*Use a desk chair that has armrests. Make adjustments so that your arms are resting on the armrests at right angles and your feet are flat on the ground.*Use found materials to make any additional adjustments needed. Find a pillow, cushion or folded towel to ease a sore bottom. Duct tape old towels on to make soft armrests, then cover with nice fabric or tie on old bandanas.*Sew a wrist pad to keep your wrists straight as your type. Fill with dried beans or rice and fragrant, relaxing dried herbs such as lavendar.*Lastly, make sure that you have a good overhead light to prevent eyestrain as you sit at your desk.*Stand up, stretch, sip some water and walk around when you start to feel discomfort at your desk.

UPDATED: Melton Blames Council for ‘Oversight' Woes

The Jackson City Council learned during a Tuesday budget meeting that the city has "no supervisory oversight" on numerous municipal transactions, which is costing the city revenue and could ultimately jeopardize some federal grants. The internal audit, which led to Mayor Frank Melton walking out of the meeting, also revealed that some checks issued by the city are not clearing one year after issuance, and that the city is not accounting for its fixed assets.

Reuters: Fred Thompson Out of Prez Race

Reuters is reporting that the presidential race is short one actor today: "Republican Fred Thompson said on Tuesday he has dropped out as a presidential candidate, following a dismal showing so far in the campaign."

Lou Dobbs' False Immigrant ‘Facts' Exposed ... Again

CNN's Lou Dobbs continues to dig himself into the xenophobic ground, and challenge FOX's Bill O'Reilly as the most unreliable personality on television. According to a FAIR media analysis, he claimed as "fact" a baseless assertion that half of the Culinary Workers Union "are illegal aliens"; CNN's media personality Candy Crowley did not challenge him:

Sundance Day 5: Movies and Mayhem

Mos Def is here. He's wandering the streets of Park City, promoting Be Kind Rewind , sitting on panels at Blackhouse Foundation, and being all-around AWESOME, because that's just how he is. Yesterday I caught a quick glimpse of him, be still my heart...

MLK III to Edwards: ‘Keep Fighting'

Well, CNN's moderators couldn't help themselves. They began tonight's Democratic debate with an actual issue: the economy. In dazzling contrast to MSNBC's scandal-obsessed debate in Las Vegas, Sens. Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama engaged in intelligent, nuanced discourse for extended periods of time. But halfway through, CNN shifted to a looser, more conversational format—and with it, a sharper focus on race in the narrow context of campaign strategy. Echoing weeks of uninspired punditry, CNN moderators asked Edwards how important of a factor race was in the campaign. They asked Obama, essentially, if he was black enough to represent African-American interests-- and whether Bill Clinton was truly the first Black President, as Toni Morrison famously wrote.

Monday, January 21

Watch for Fraudulent E-mails

Folks, the trolls are up to it again. There is a round of e-mails going around to people who post here made to look like they come from people at the JFP. They don't. (Funny how this happens everytime I write a column about race.) Forward them to us if you want, and we can send them on to the authorities who we've reported this fraud to in the past and who have asked us to report them. Thanks, all, and sorry for the inconvenience.


The last significant snowfall I recall was New Year's Day, 2001. I remember it well because I was at church on New Year's Eve when the snow started, and it had accumulated quite a bit by the time service was over. Thankfully, I kept a can of de-icer in my trunk at all times, and I even loaned it to someone who didn't have an ice scraper. I crept my way home, unable to see the lines in the street. Despite a traffic jam due to an accident or something, I managed to get home within an hour.

MIT Prof Takes on Real Iraqi War Death Toll

Is it a "right-wing conspiracy"? John Tirman, executive director of MIT's Center for International Studies, thinks so. Get his take on Alternet.

Barbour's ‘State of the State' Monday 6 p.m.

Gov. Haley Barbour's "State of the State" address will be tonight at 6 p.m., broadcast live on MPB. Read his verbatim prepared address on

We Have a Dream ... Still

Today, the official Martin Luther King Jr. day, is a great day to watch and hear Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Enjoy.

The Choice: Clinton and Obama Running for Different Reasons?

George Packer has a ]compelling essay in The New Yorker this week about the motivations behind Obama and Clinton's run for the White House. It ends:

Sundance Day 4: Hindsight is 20/20

So yesterday I got to ride a ski mobile down a big hill. Well, technically, I rode a stretcher behind a ski mobile, but hey, semantics…

Sunday, January 20

Sundance Day 3: Ballast Premiers

Yesterday's premier generated Sundance buzz. Bloggers are comparing Ballast to the lyrical films of Terrence Malick and David Gordon Green, and the all-important Hollywood Reporter and Variety have given beaming reviews. Like Malick's work, Ballast is deliberately and poignantly shot. Like Green's work, the movie is carried by a leaden sense of place. But this time, we recognize the place—Canton Square in Christmas-glow, winter sky over barren fields, Delta rain collecting in corduroy rows...

Saturday, January 19

Other Cards in the Deck

Much has been made about whether Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama played "the race card" in a series of press-filtered exchanges that included an]]an analogy to Martin Luther King, Jr. and former President Lyndon B. Johnson. During MSNBC's Las Vegas debate on Tuesday–which, interestingly enough, was supposed to focus on Black and Brown issues–hosts Tim Russert and Brian Williams spent substantial air time pressing Obama and Clinton on a supposed "race war." John Edwards–whose media attention managed to diminish even further as the press salivated over the no-holds-barred]]no-holds-barred race bout–was finally invited to weigh in:

Friday, January 18

Sundance Day 2: Which is really all about Slamdance…

It's 8pm and I am already exhausted. For one thing, it takes a ridiculous amount of energy just to stay warm. The high today hovered at 20 degrees, and the low landed somewhere around 1 degree. At any given time, I sport four layers.

Speaker McCoy Fires Back

Republicans had predicted House Speaker Billy McCoy's vengeance after his close re-election to the leadership post, and McCoy did not disappoint. The speaker assigned no chairmanships this session to Republicans, and removed other Republicans from last year's committee chairmanships.

Sundance Day 1: Travel Lite

After a full day of airports (and a cozy airplane ride with a blanket named Bunky and the shrillest baby I've ever met—he's lucky he can flash that cherubic four-toothed grin!), here I am in Park City, Utah, where even grocery stores look like ski lodges. It's been snowing since we rolled into town around 8pm, just in time to layer up and stroll down twinkle-twinkle-little Main Street for the Slamdance Opening Reception at a local fave, the Star Bar.

Thursday, January 17

U.S. Abortions at Lowest Rate Since 1974

The Associated Press is reporting on a new study that shows that abortions in the U.S. are way down:

The number of abortions in the United States dropped to 1.2 million in 2005, the lowest level since 1974 and down 25 percent from the all-time high of 1.6 million in 1990, according to report issued Thursday.

Ledger: DeLaughter E-mailed Proposed Order to Peters

Just in from Jerry Mitchell at The Clarion-Ledger; unclear who "Mills" is supposed to be, though:

Wednesday, January 16

[Lunch Lady] Self-Proclaimed Goodness

In her many years of life, Lunch Lady has learned to be wary of some things—such as entities that proclaim themselves to be something that only time and audiences should be able to decide. For example, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey's presentation of "The Greatest Show on Earth"; Michael Jackson's self-declaration as the "King of Pop"; and Fox Sports saying they have "The Best Damn Sports Show Period." They all make Lunch Lady a little nervous. If they didn't, she might have called this column "The Best, Wittiest Thing You Will Read About Food This Week." But she would never be so presumptuous.

Bribery Indictments Expand

The federal indictment of attorney Dickie Scruggs continues to snatch up lawyers like an expanding avalanche barreling down a ski slope. Booneville attorney Joey Langston pled guilty to a corruption charge last week, admitting that he tried to influence a Hinds County Circuit Court Judge.

[Green Girl] The Green Wallet

Now is the perfect time to start thinking about how to make your life a little greener. Many of us make less-than-green choices because we believe that living green means spending green. But that is not necessarily true. Think back to basic tenets of environmentally friendly living: reduce, reuse, recycle. Both reducing and reusing can have a positive impact on your wallet, in addition to helping the planet. With a little thought, creativity and planning, you can go green without making a stop at the poorhouse along the way.

Exchanging Cultures: Jewish Film Fest Opens Thursday

See details on the festival and a video trailer for "The Rape of Europa," which opens the festival Thursday night at the Mississippi Museum of Art, on the JFP's events calendar.

Sean Wade

Sean Wade is a big guy. He could use his stature to threaten, but instead, he exudes tranquility to those in his presence. Wade, 32, speaks with clarity and precision, his voice steady and soft. His demeanor is welcoming and inclusive, and he tends to be almost self-effacing. His kindness and gentleness are evident in every move and word.

The Fierce Urgency of Now

A well-meaning friend from out of state asked me a puzzling question recently: "When will it be enough?" When will Mississippi have talked so much about race history that we don't have to anymore?

Second Thoughts On Privatization

The Jackson City Council got a taste of the realities of outsourcing at its Monday night work session when the council noted a $14,000 purchase order from Jackson business NAPA Auto Parts for city vehicle parts on the claims docket.

Au Naturale, Or No?

A Mississippi poultry processing company will spend the upcoming congressional session in Washington pressing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to enforce its definition of "natural" on poultry products, according to its president.

Teaching Black Boys

When principal Mitchell Shears arrived at Clausell Elementary School, students were having difficulty with math scores, so administrators turned the bathrooms into "mathrooms." Instead of the usual graffiti you see in school bathrooms, math problems line the walls in vibrant colors. When children feel the urge to mark up the walls, they exercise their brains at the same time. When all of the problems have been completed, faculty members add new ones.

DNA Says 'Not Guilty' 16 Years Later

Arthur Johnson may be returning home in a matter of days, 16 years after his arrest for a rape he did not commit. On Friday, Jan. 4, the Mississippi Supreme Court ordered Sunflower County to review Johnson's case based on post-conviction DNA testing that conclusively eliminates him as the perpetrator.

No Money To Fund Partisan Radio, Democrats Say

The Mississippi House of Representatives may consider a bill forcing more oversight on how the state pays for advertising in 2009. The state spent more than $14 million on newspaper, radio and television advertising in 2006, but some House members say the state is funding partisan radio.

Justice Corrupted

While the state is mesmerized by the Scruggs saga, another type of judicial corruption is begging for attention. Arrested in 1992 for rape, a Sunflower County jury found Arthur Johnson guilty after a two-day trial in '93, where the victim's identification swayed the verdict despite a solid alibi. On Jan. 4, the Mississippi Supreme Court sent the case back to Sunflower County based on a DNA test showing conclusively that Johnson was not the perpetrator.

[Sue Doh Nem] Life Lends You a Poor Hand

Boneqweesha Jones: "It's 2008. Do you know where your money is? Things and people change—sometimes. And so does the name of my television show. The Ghetto Science media production staff suggested that I change the name of my show, 'Boneqweesha Live,' to a newer and sleeker name: 'Qweesha '08.' I like it!

[Kamikaze] Not So Sweet Sixteen

As a hip-hop artist, I often find myself defending rap music. To many, it's the grinch that stole society's soul, the scourge reducing our youth to mindless purveyors of evil. But champion it, I must. It is my chosen profession and one of the things I know how to do very well.

[Gregory] Truth or Dare

I have something to get off my chest. I'm frightened to admit it in such a public forum; I'm still only able to whisper it to myself. In fact, when I finally worked up enough courage to tell The Boyfriend about this previously undisclosed fact, I considered it immediate terms for break-up and instantaneous commencement of speaking very badly about me to everyone he knew.

Tweaking Twiggy

Photos by Jason 'Twiggy' Lott

A week into January, 27-year-old Jason "Twiggy" Lott leans back in his faux-Swedish chair, running his fingers through close-cropped hair and casually tossing one denim-clad leg over the other. In the flawless glow of bright wood and industrial metal, Twiggy is pondering issues as clichéd as his place in the world, and as weighty as the coiled potential of 2008.

Tuesday, January 15

no poo for you?

A few weeks ago, I embarked on a daring experiment. After reading about the damage that standard-issue hair products can do to your hair, I decided to go without 'poo.

No Mention of Peters in Ledger Editorial?

OK, this is weird. The Clarion-Ledger's Jerry Mitchell reports that Ed Peters may have taken a million-dollar bribe from the Scruggs clan to get Judge Bobby DeLaughter to rule in their favor. Then, today, the Ledger writes a predictable deer-in-the-headlights editorial about how all this mess means that "the state's system begs reform." (Not mentioning had badly our "watchdog" press needs to reform.) The editorial re-states the basic facts so far, starting with an incoherent lead section:

Haley Barbour's 2008 Inaugural Address

Read the verbatim full text of the governor's prepared remarks over on StateDesk.

Monday, January 14

Just In: Delaughter Voids Barbour's Election Date

Late today, Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby Delaughter ruled in favor of Attorney General Jim Hood's argument that Gov. Barbour was acting unconstitutionally by trying to force Mississippi voters to wait almost a year after Sen. Trent Lott's resignation to vote for his replacement. Details, and Barbour's response (hint: it has something to do with his well-founded confidence in the Mississippi Supreme Court ruling his direction) is over on StateDesk.

Post-Surgery, Melton Vows to Help More Kids

Jackson Mayor Frank Melton had little to say at a 10 a.m. press conference Monday. Reporters spent more than 30 minutes setting up cameras in the mayor's ceremonial office, only to hear the mayor offer gratitude to his medical staff and family. Melton presented a model of the new defibrillator now sitting in his chest and declared a new conviction to help the city's youth. "We're losing too many young people," Melton told the press. "…It's very difficult to talk to an 18-year-old one day … and bury him the next. It causes me to lose sleep."

Former Hinds D.A. Ed Peters Accused of $1M Bribe

The Scruggs scandal is hitting closer and closer to Hinds County. In a story about Booneville attorney Joey Langston pleading guilty to corruption charges, The Clarion-Ledger buried explosive accusations, made in court documents, that Ed Peters—who has worked closely with Tim Balducci—is accused of taking a million-dollar bribe to influence his former assistant district attorney, now-Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby Delaughter:

Friday, January 11

Clutter: Bad for Your Health?

The New York Times has a piece that links health issues, including weight problems, to disorganization and clutter:

Crying All the Way Back to the Megillah?

I really dig Maureen Dowd's column about Hillary Clinton's notorious tears leading up to New Hampshire. And isn't it ironic that the first viable female president cried on purpose in order to seem sensitive enough. And note the part where the Clintons ignore the media; ah, that's the Senate candidate I observed in New York. Dowd says in part:

StateDesk Live with Breaking News and Commentary

Visit, the JFP's statewide news blog, for daily news on the state Legislature, commentary and other pertinent state news. Right now, you can read and comment on a PDF of Phil Bryant's new Senate committee appointments, read about a man exonerated by DNA of committing a rape 15 years ago and talk about the prospect of flamboyant legislatator Steve Holland running for Wicker's congressional seat. You don't have to be registered to comment over there, so head on over and get comfortable.

Todd Stauffer and Kamikaze on Radio Jan. 11

... And they're talking about ... wait for it ... karaoke. We can only assume this will not fill the entire show. Show is on WLEZ-FM 103.7 until 1 p.m. Streams live at every Friday noon until 1 p.m.

Thursday, January 10

Melton At Home; McLemore Still Acting Mayor

[Verbatim from city] Mayor Frank E. Melton will hold a 10:00 a.m. press conference at City Hall on Monday, January 14, 2008 to discuss his recent surgical procedure. In the interim, the Mayor again extends his appreciation to the public for their outpouring of concern and interest on his behalf.

Wednesday, January 9

Dead Man Rolling

A dear friend of your departs this life peacefully, and how do you honor his memory? By rolling his corpse on an office chair to a check cashing place in order to cash his Social Security check? I wouldn't, but unfortunately, someone did.

Melton Recovering; McLemore Acting Mayor

[Verbatim from city] Mayor Frank E. Melton is resting comfortably this afternoon after undergoing a medical procedure at a Jackson hospital Wednesday morning. His physicians indicated that the procedure was successful and they were pleased with the outcome. At present, the Mayor is alert and communicating with family and members of his staff.

Light Bites

Maybe you're feeling like I do—if you never see a plate of cookies, box of candy or line-up of pastries again, it'll be too soon. The holidays are about giving, and that often means edible goodies. Even beverages were on overload: eggnog, hot chocolate and mulled wine. By the time the new year began, millions of Americans had promised that this year they will lose weight, this time they will follow through on the resolution to start healthy eating habits. While I'm not making any such promise for myself or helping you keep yours, lighter food and wine pairings will help detoxify from the overindulgence that was December.

Lee Vance

Jackson Assistant Police Chief Lee Vance sits at a small table in his office, hands clasped together, as he precisely chooses the words to describe his Jackson upbringing and adulthood. Behind him on the walls are two 24-by-36-inch posters of Muhammad Ali, whom Vance considers a personal hero despite his flaws. He is cautious to not interrupt his story, but when JPD needs a representative at a city meeting, he pauses to find a replacement.

One Nation Under Oprah

While playing a jolly game of inquiries recently, I was prompted to answer the question, "What is the biggest threat to humankind?" Hastily, and foolishly, I responded, "ignorance." But after further rumination over the question, I have arrived at what I know to be the most imminent, dangerous catalyst for utter self-destruction: Oprah Winfrey.

Amid Tears, McCoy Keeps Seat

Democratic Rep. Billy McCoy reclaimed his seat as House speaker by only two votes Tuesday. House members, including new members Kimberly Campbell and Adrienne Wooten—both of Jackson—approved McCoy by a 62-to-60 vote, handing Rep. Jeff Smith, D-Columbus, a very narrow loss this year.

Coalition Condemns Lewis Demotion

The Mississippi Coalition for Justice condemned Police Chief Malcolm McMillin's decision to demote former Deputy Chief Tyrone Lewis to sergeant on Monday.

Out With The Old?

New arrivals on the Hinds County Board of Supervisors formed a new majority, putting Supervisor Doug Anderson out in the cold this week.

Two Districts Competitive in 2008?

Both U.S. House District 1 and former Sen. Trent Lott's seats could prove competitive this year, despite a decades-long trend of Republican domination in Mississippi.

Mayor Faces Heart Surgery

Jackson Mayor Frank Melton fainted at an inauguration ceremony for county officials Monday morning. Melton appeared to temporarily lose consciousness during the inauguration, which recognized officials elected during the November elections, including Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith.

Such Sweet Sorrow

Since July 2004, Ross Olivier has been pastor of the Galloway Methodist Church in Jackson, bringing with him experience forged in South Africa's anti-apartheid movement. As we spoke last Monday, his enthusiastic responses were well-considered, yet accessible. He leaned into me as he spoke. Rarely have I been in such a magnanimous presence. I couldn't help feeling a little sorry for myself: Why hadn't I met this man before? Olivier is returning to South Africa on Jan. 13.

Melton: Time to Retire

Mayor Frank Melton's fainting session at Monday's county inaugural event was the latest warning he needs to heed: It is time for him to retire as mayor of Jackson. It would also be a good idea for him to return to Tyler, Texas, where his wife is an esteemed physician—pediatrician, but still—who can look after him and help him do what he needs to do—and stop doing what he shouldn't—in order to improve his health.

[Sue Doh Nem] Waterboarding, Lies and Videotapes

Mr. Announcement: "This episode of 'All God's Churn Got Shoes' is about one man's junk becoming another man's treasure—or vice versa—as Brotha Hustle and Aunt Tee Tee stumble upon some interesting stuff belonging to the Government Intelligence Agency."

[Hightower] Facts For Action On Health Care

Widely reported fact No. 1: Our country faces a growing health-care crisis, which leaves 47 million Americans with no health insurance—an increase of 7 million people since the year 2000.

[Hutchinson] The Obama White House

A President Barack Obama will be the most scrutinized president since Abraham Lincoln. Ironically, the reason for this has less to do with race, though it will still play a role in how many view him. He's lifted public passions and expectations to the clouds with his soaring rhetoric about hope and change, and portrayed himself as the man who can repair the shambles of Bush's domestic and foreign policies.

The Case For Innocence

It was Ron Williamson's obituary in the Dec. 9, 2004, issue of The New York Times that caught attorney and author John Grisham's eye.

‘These Are Not Fair Trials': The JFP Talks With John Grisham

Since publication of "The Innocent Man" in 2006, author John Grisham has become a strong advocate for the Innocence Project, lending his name and voice to help establish the organization's Mississippi office in Oxford. "The Innocent Man" was Grisham's first—and very likely his only—foray into the world of non-fiction. A man who has always had strong opinions about the legal system, he is even more adamant today about why it's broken and how to fix it. I spoke with him via telephone in mid-November 2007, and below is the full text of that interview.

Golf Channel Commentator Says Young Golfers Should "Lynch Tiger Woods in a back alley" What!?

Golf Channel anchor says young golfers should 'lynch Tiger Woods' - Golf Ex... - Golf - Yahoo! Sports

Tuesday, January 8

Melton to Have Heart Surgery Wednesday

The story has changed dramatically since former Mayor Dale Danks told the media that his client, Mayor Frank Melton, was fine and overheated when he fainted at a county swearing-in. Today, Danks told The Clarion-Ledger that Melton will remain in the hospital to have a cardioverter-defibrillator inserted into his heart on Wednesday, meaning that doctors must fear that Melton is in danger of going into cardiac arrest. Danks told the Ledger that he didn't expect it to take long for Melton to recover, that he would only be incapacitated for half a day and then "be back at work shortly thereafter."

Reeves Gives Up Fight and Goes Home

The Clarion-Ledger is reporting that John Reeves, the Republican legislator from South Jackson, said today that he is no longer planning to challenge Adrienne Wooten, a Democrat who defeated him in November, in the Legislature.

McCain Wins GOP N.H. Race; Obama and Clinton Close So Far

CNN has called the GOP side in New Hampshire for John McCain. Early returns are showing Clinton slightly ahead of Obama, and Edwards trailing a distant third. CNN also projects that John Edwards will come in third.

Hal & Mal's Birthday Celebration TONIGHT

Come celebrate Hal & Mal's 22nd birthday at 8 p.m. with an Elvis-themed Pub Quiz. Test your knowledge, grab some birthday cake and toast to many more years of great food and entertainment.

Are Obama Comparisons to JFK Unhealthy ‘Baby-Boomer Reminiscing'?

New York Times blogger Matt Bai argues that it's time to move forward instead of backward, as all the Kennedy comparisons do:

UPDATE: House Speaker McCoy Wins in 62-60 Vote

The Legislature is in session, and the House will vote on a new speaker shortly. Keep an eye out here for the outcome of the contentious battle, with Gov. Haley Barbour watching from the sidelines to see if his efforts to oust McCoy will pay off. Watch for a full report from Adam Lynch right here later today. Meantime, read his Jan. 2 legislative analysis and preview here.

Monday, January 7

Melton Has Fainting Spell During Inaugurations

Jackson Mayor Frank Melton fainted during an inauguration ceremony for Hinds County officials this morning. Melton appeared to temporarily lose consciousness during the inauguration of officials elected during the November elections, including Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith.

ARTICLE: 114-Year-Old Chicago Woman Registers To Vote

Virginia Call, who was born in 1894, hadn't voted in 20 years, so her registration had to be renewed.

Mayor Melton Faints

Anyone else heard about this? Details, maybe?

According to a news ticker on WAPT, Melton fainted during the swearing in of Hinds County officials at the Hinds County Courthouse. AMR treated him in an empty courtroom, and Melton was able to walk out and drive himself away.

Saturday, January 5

NOW Clinton Is Worried About Young Voters?

Since Barack Obama proved that the under-30 vote mattered in Iowa, and could well be a deciding factor in the presidential election, Hillary Clinton is adjusting her strategy to start trying to appeal to them. Does she really think that young voters are going to fall for that when it's obvious she's doing it just to get their vote? If she cared about them, she would have shown it already. This shows exactly why I'm not a Clinton fan—she is a political machine, who cares more about strategy then getting out there and really getting real with the voters. I'm fully on the Obama wagon now. This did it for me, not that I needed much of a nudge.

Friday, January 4

Hughes Demotes Chandler After Video Investigation

Jackson Fire Chief Vernon Hughes announced he was demoting Assistant Chief Todd Chandler to captain status at a press conference today. Hughes re-assigned Chandler to the division of air supply, effective today, after the investigation of a 13-year-old video allegedly featuring Chandler and other white firemen mocking black recruits. Chandler, who has been with the fire department for more than 20 years, denied being the fireman in the video, though Hughes said he was convinced of Chandler's identification in the film.

Thursday, January 3

Obama, Huckabee Win Iowa

And they're off. The Associated Press reports:

Ledger Outsources Customer Service to South Carolina

Clarion-Ledger Publisher Larry Whitaker sent the following letter to employees this week, talking about the challenges and changes the paper faced in 2007:

Boss Queen to Sign New Book Today at 5 p.m.

Sweet Potato Queen hell will break loose today, Jan. 3, at 5 p.m. at Lemuria when Jill Conner Browne signs her new book, ""The Sweet Potato Queens' Guide to Raising Children for Fun and Profit." Read Kelly Smith's Dec. 26 JFP review of the book here: "From Potty Training to Penii."

Radio JFP: Kaze, Ladd, Stauffer on ‘Brand New Day'

JFP columnist Kamikaze with join Radio JFP hosts Donna Ladd and Todd Stauffer Friday, Jan. 4, at noon to discuss the state of the city and what needs to happen in 2008, a topic inspired by Kamikaze's current JFP column, "Can You Feel A Brand New Day?" Feel free to post questions here before or during the show, which is on WLEZ, 103.7 FM, and streams live at

A Generation X Playground

Generation X, folks born between 1965 and 1981 (or a different range, depending on the source), have been branded as a bunch of defiant, apathetic slackers. Not fair, I say! We can't help it if we entered the workforce in the middle of a recession, can we? We may be overeducated and underemployed, but we still have some pride left - pride in our young, carefree past. Don't believe me? Well, go to and see for yourself. Even if a lot of us can't hold on to a fat paycheck and will never know what getting a pension is like, we have our memories, gosh darn it!

Which Candidate Do You ‘Match' The Most?

I found this over on -- it's a quiz patterned after online matching services that lets you walk through a series of questions and then tells you which presidential candidates you're most similar to. Supposedly non-partisan and so on. (It's amazing what grants will fund, eh? :-)

Wednesday, January 2

[Lunch Lady] Sandwiches Gone Global

There is an episode of "Friends" in which Ross wants Ugly Naked Guy's apartment, but doesn't know how to go about getting it. Rachel suggests he get to know him a little better, find out about his interests and use that knowledge to bond with UNG. Then comes her classic line: "Like if I wanted something from Joey, I would strike up a conversation about, say, um, sandwiches … or my underwear." Joey is instantly all ears.

Karen Parker

I met Karen Parker on a warm December afternoon with the sound of wind chimes drifting through the open door of New Vibrations, her Fondren book and gift store "for the evolving spirit." She was unpacking necklaces when I arrived. "They have stone gems inside the vials, and each little stone represents an emotional benefit, like allowing you to de-stress or feeling like your energy is protected," Parker explained.

Speak Free Or Die

On her last day here, Kawkab al-Thaibani left me a gift of a blue, brown and beige striped ceramic cat, from a little boutique in Clinton. I'm a cat magnet, but I'm not one for hokey cat gifts. This cat statue is perfect, though—with confident mod stripes and wide-open eyes, it looks a tad Picasso staring at me quizzically from the corner of my desk.

Rev. Olivier Returns to South Africa

Rev. Ross Olivier, "Reverend Ross" to his Galloway Methodist Church parishioners, will return to his native South Africa in January after serving the Jackson church since July 2004. In recent years, Olivier (pronounced Ollie-FEE) has become a Jackson staple at social justice and racial reconciliation events, drawing from his work and experience during the apartheid era in South Africa, where he was a vigorous opponent of the brutal oppression he found there. Archbishop Desmond Tutu asked Olivier to establish a council of churches during that time, and in 1994, the year of South Africa's first democratic elections, he facilitated the Methodist Church's re-visioning for the new, emerging democracy, chronicled in the book "Journey Begun," which he co-authored.

The Session and 71

The House will decide the outcome of a December re-vote when it convenes in January. Both Republican incumbent John Reeves and Democratic challenger Adrienne Wooten filed petitions in the House to contest the November election, and the matter will be waiting for House members when they arrive Jan. 8.

Boot Camp, Firearms Training–and DJs

Newly confirmed Jackson Police Chief Malcolm McMillin began an internal-affairs investigation into the potentially illegal use of police property for profit this week. Deputy Chief Tyrone Lewis, who is training coordinator at the Jackson Police Academy, has been letting his son Terrell Lewis host private parties using academy facilities for months. McMillin said he was surprised at hearing of the parties.

Mississippi Loses Political Pioneer

Former Lt. Gov. Evelyn Gandy, 87, died Dec. 23 of complications of progressive supranuclear palsy, costing Mississippi one of its greatest political trailblazers. Gandy was the first woman in Mississippi—and the only one so far—elected to three statewide offices and one legislative position.

Chief: Re-Assign the Bodyguards

The events of Dec. 21 make plain what happens when you give power to the undeserving. Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon said Mayor Frank Melton and two of his bodyguards pulled up behind her car as she drove to work and blasted his police siren while riding her bumper.

[Sue Doh Nem] Costly and Confusing Techno World

Brother Hustle: "In my world history class at Ghetto Science Community College, I learned about Berlin, Germany, a city divided by a wall. The division happened because folks on the west side of town wanted a social-market economy, while the folks on the east side wanted a planned economy.

[Kamikaze] Can You Feel a Brand New Day?

Baby New Year has ushered Old Man 2007 out to pasture. As we begin to focus on a new beginning and resolutions that we will surely abandon before Valentine's Day, let us be thankful for making it through another year. But let us also resolve to make improvements in '08—personally, professionally and politically.

[Dortch] Legislature: Raise Cigarette Tax by $1

"Of all the concerns, there is one—taxation—that alarms us the most. While marketing and public and passive smoking restrictions do depress volume, in our experience taxation depresses it much more severely. Our concern for taxation is, therefore, central to our thinking. …"

2008 Legislative Preview: New Session, Old Problems

Photos by Adam Lynch, Donna Ladd, and Jaro Vacek

The Mississippi legislative session is coming around again Jan. 8, bringing with it some tough decisions. The Legislature took a stroll through roses last year, oddly, thanks to Hurricane Katrina. To counter statewide storm damage, the federal government approved the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which fully transferred the state's Medicaid budget onto the back of the feds. Normally, federal funds provide three-quarters of the state budget, with Mississippi matching those funds with another 25 percent. The Deficit Reduction Act saved the state from having to allocate this annual expenditure of about $850 million, garnering blessings and gratitude from representatives and senators alike.

Eating In the Stables

The "new" Mississippi Capitol building was built in 1903 using back taxes paid by the Illinois Central Railroad, on the site of the old state penitentiary. Originally built for $1.9 million, the building was renovated from 1979 to 1982 for $19 million. There was a stable under the front steps when the building was first built. That area is now the snack bar.

Important Legislative Dates

Here's a calendar of prominent legislative actions for the upcoming session. Voters may want to consider attending and showing support for bills they favor on certain deadline dates. Call your local legislator for more information.