Stories for March 2014


Monday, March 31

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Miss. Supreme Court Reverses Michelle Byrom's Conviction, Delays Second Execution

The Mississippi Supreme Court today reversed the capital conviction of Michelle Byrom and ordered a new trial with a different circuit judge.

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Jackson Could Get $30 Million Boost From Lawmakers

A lot of the city of Jackson's legislative agenda has died. In fact, none of the 10 proposals that contain the phrase "city of Jackson" in the bill title survived the earliest committee deadlines.

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Congressman Bennie Thompson Officially Backs Priester for Jackson Mayor

A close listen to Melvin Priester Jr.'s radio ads and policy ideas, which echo U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson's oft-repeated frustrations of Jackson's failure to apply for federal money, was enough to guess whom Thompson would support in the mayor's race.

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Margaret Hoelzer

As a 5-year-old, Olympian Margaret Hoelzer didn't realize her best friend's father was sexually abusing her.

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Community Meetings and Events

Fondren After 5 is Thursday, April 3, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Court Orders Stay on Japanese Antarctic Whaling

The International Court of Justice on Monday ordered a temporary halt to Japan's Antarctic whaling program, ruling that it is not for scientific purposes as the Japanese government had claimed.

Monday is the Deadline to Sign Up for Health Law

Monday is the deadline to sign up for private health insurance in the new online markets created by President Barack Obama's health care law.

Koreas Trade Fire; Island Residents in Shelters

North and South Korea fired hundreds of artillery shells into each other's waters Monday in a flare-up of animosity that forced residents of five front-line South Korean islands to evacuate to shelters for several hours, South Korean officials said.

Health Care Website Stumbles on Last Day

The Obama administration's health care website stumbled early Monday , falling out of service for nearly four hours on deadline day for sign-ups. After it was fixed, officials plowed ahead with a nationwide promotional drive, almost like getting out the vote on Election Day.

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10 Local Stories of the Week

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

Saturday, March 29

Miss. Lawmakers Face Saturday Budget Deadline

State negotiators face a Saturday night deadline to agree on details of a roughly $6 billion budget for fiscal 2015.

Friday, March 28

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Food Corps Recruiting Service Members; Apply by March 30

For the last year, Mariel Parman, 24, has worked as a service member with Food Corps to help improve the health of Mississippi's young people by linking health disparity with social change.

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I Don’t Feel Welcome in Mississippi

Having lived in Mississippi my whole life, a lot of things have been not cool. Add being gay to that, and you have the formula for a whole bunch of uncoolness.

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Hopefuls Stick to Talking Points

Ten days out from the special election that will determine the next mayor of Jackson, the top candidates are honing in on the key ideas they'll sell to capital city voters casting ballots April 8.

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Miss. Religious-Practices Bill Goes to Negotiation

Mississippi lawmakers could try to write a final version of a religious-practices bill that has sparked concerns about anti-gay discrimination.

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Attorneys Allege Lethal Drugs Violate Michelle Byrom's Constitutional Rights

“MDOC’s decision to purchase raw pharmaceutical ingredients and then secretly compound them at an unknown time and location by people with unknown training and credentials, increases the risk that the drugs will be ineffective or contaminated."

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Mangala Maddali

Mangala Maddali, part of the cultural team for the Holi celebration at the Hindu Temple of Mississippi, is looking to spread awareness of the event in our state.

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2nd Debate Exposes Generational Differences

In the second forum for the Jackson mayoral race, political rivalry was still holding strong — and may be getting stronger.

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Mayoral Candidates Sit Down and Talk to the JFP Editorial Board

Watch videos of the full interviews with the 2014 mayoral candidates.

Congress Backs Bill to Help Cash-Strapped Ukraine

Congress is close to sending President Barack Obama a bill to give $1 billion in loan guarantees to cash-strapped Ukraine and provide the administration broad authority to levy more sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea.

Latest Information on Search for Missing Jet

Australia announced Friday that the search area for the Malaysia Airlines jet that disappeared March 8 has shifted to a new Indian Ocean region, 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) to the northeast of where planes and ships had been trying to find it.

U.S. Recognizes Michigan Same-Sex Couple Marriages

Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday extended federal recognition to the marriages of about 300 same-sex couples that took place in Michigan before a federal appeals court put those unions on hold.

Thursday, March 27

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Large Turnout Expected for Amnesty Days in Jackson

Jackson police say they are expecting a large turnout for the city's Amnesty Days.

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Jimmy Graham

New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham is the target of a new rule after one of his earth-shaking dunks following a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome tilted the goal posts.

Obama Tells Pope Francis He is a 'Great Admirer'

A visibly energized President Barack Obama held a nearly hourlong audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday, expressing his great admiration for the pontiff and inviting him to visit the White House.

Ukraine Predicts 'Yes' Vote in UN on Its Unity

Ukraine is predicting that the U.N. General Assembly will adopt a resolution Thursday reaffirming the country's territorial integrity and calling the referendum that led to Russia's annexation of its Crimean Peninsula illegal.

Jet Search Cut Short; New Satellite Spots Objects

Hints about the lost Malaysian jetliner piled up Thursday, but there was precious little chance to track them down. Bad weather cut short the hunt for possible debris fields from the aircraft as satellite data revealed hundreds more objects that might be wreckage.

Senate Gives Final Approval to 3 Anti-Union Bills

Bills that aim to restrict union organizing and picketing practices in Mississippi, as well as restrict governments' abilities to pressure employers to use unionized workers, are on their way to Gov. Phil Bryant.

Records Disputes Could Go to Miss. Ethics Group

The Mississippi Ethics Commission could gain power to settle disputes over requests for public records.

Wednesday, March 26

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LGBTers Rally in Jackson to Demand Respect

Advocates have injected new energy into the push for LGBT rights with a flurry of recent activity in Jackson and throughout Mississippi. This afternoon, several organizations from around the state rallied in Jackson's Smith Park to urge policymakers to affirm the human rights of LGBT people.

The Slate

Somewhere in the world, Warren Buffett is laughing that no one was able to win his billion-dollar bracket challenge. I, myself, busted out at ESPN, Yahoo, Sports Illustrated, Fox and other places.

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My Lost Billion

Waited until the first four play-in games of the NCAA Men's Tournament were complete before filling out brackets on various websites late into the night. I felt confident that some were good brackets, and went to sleep excited about the tournament starting late in the morning the next day.

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Meet The New South

On the front porch of his home in Hattiesburg, Drew Young invites musicians to join him to talk about and play music. His collaborator and former student, Paul West, directs the video interview and performance series.

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Grammy-Worthy Gospel

Although it was Grammy night and Tye Tribbett had been nominated in three categories, he didn't expect to win, especially after being asked to present at the event. But during the pre-telecast portion of the awards ceremony, Tribbett garnered two of the coveted trophies.

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Oh, Mr. Maxwell, Do you Write?

From his portrayal of William Faulkner in "Oh, Mr. Faulkner, Do you Write?" to his southern interpretation of the biblical character St. Peter in "Fish Tales," John Maxwell is a man of many faces.

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Perspectives on a Tragedy

"The Laramie Project" is based on a community's reaction to the 1998 murder of 21-year-old college student Matthew Shepard.

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Getting Schooled in GMOs

GMOs in the form of corn, soy, wheat and rice—the crops most affected by genome modification to make a plant more resistant to insects or poor growing conditions—are at the center of scientific debate and legislative initiatives across the United States.

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No Hate

"The Campaign," directed and produced by Christie Herring, introduces us to the people working to stop California's Proposition 8, which would have eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry in the nation's most populous state.

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East Meets West, Bound by Brass

Trumpet and brass bands are a huge deal in Serbia. Each year, the town of Guca hosts a trumpet festival where the world's finest players and bands perform for hundreds of thousands of people. Imagine Woodstock with the sound of traditional Serbian brass music instead of rock 'n' roll.

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Friendship Interrupted

Ravi is not as carefree as your typical 10-year-old, and the reason soon becomes apparent—he and his family reside at an immigration detention center.

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Something to Offer

The title of Lyn Elliot's short film, "A Good Match," hints at its relationship-hinged plot, and the film's opening sequence of a revolving slot machine of faces does the same. But it's not until the slot machine picks three faces that the audience might begin to realize that this isn't the typical love story.

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Murder and Justice

You'd be forgiven for thinking "Money 1955: The Emmett Till Murder Trial" is a documentary, given that the trial marked the start of the Civil Rights Movement.

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Harrowing Sounds

Alan Lomax's role in the preservation of American folk and blues music can never be understated. Lomax traveled around the country collecting interviews and songs for the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

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Bringing the South to Alaska

Uprooting your life and taking it to an unfamiliar place is a scary idea, but it's necessary, sometimes, to keep your sanity. That's what the ladies in "Baking Alaska" did.

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Grim Reaper

Despite the heavy nature of their film's subject matter, Marian and Givens' efforts have resulted in a delightfully frenetic film that stimulates the mind, the heart, and the funny bone in just the right amounts.

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Forever is a Long Time

“Forev” explores the impromptu relationship of two neighbors.

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Running Scared

"Big Significant Things" focuses on Craig, played by English actor Harry Lloyd, and his road trip around the south.

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The Odd Couple

The striking film "Mr. Hublot," directed by Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares, is like Steampunk meets "The Jetsons"—a post-apocalyptic universe of steam-powered machines and propeller hats that allow citizens to take flight above it all.

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Shifting Sands

The opening of "A Tangled Tale" features dark scenes of nature, from something jumping out of water to catch a butterfly to the casting of a fisherman's line.

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Folk Tale

Folk songs have existed about as long as music has been around. Some are about everyday issues; some tell a story. One type of folk song, which deals with crime, is called a moritat, such as "Zela Trovke" from Slovakia.

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A Perfect Shelter

In 1950s suburbia, a family faces threats from at home and across the globe.

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Joe LaNier: Survivor

Iwo Jima is a small volcanic island in the Pacific Ocean. Its name is seared into the psyche of anyone even remotely familiar with American history in World War II.

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Jones' 'Beautiful Jim'

"Beautiful Jim" is an intimate documentary portrait of bisexual singer-songwriter and raconteur Jimbeau Hinson.

Show Us the Campaign Money—On Time

On Tuesday, April 1, candidates seeking the office of Jackson mayor are required to submit their campaign-finance reports.

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Stinker Quote of the Week: 'Holy Ghost Handshakes'

How can the public know be sure that Yarber won't award contracts and conduct other city business on the strength of the Holy Ghost handshake?

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What It's Come To

Miss Doodle Mae: "Jojo, our fearless leader, is an avid seeker of knowledge and understanding. His desire is to use helpful information to better serve his customers, staff and community."

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Piling on the Poor

Before the session started, fiscally conservative budget writers vowed to keep state spending to a minimum unless the economy improved and projected revenues went up.

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A #JXNMayor Confessional

The three members of the Jackson City Council who are running for mayor got ahead of the rumor-mill in interviews with the Jackson Free Press last week.

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State Takeovers: A Fix for Failing School Districts?

When the state took control of the Hazlehurst City school district in 2008, the small rural district was in chaos and suffering from abysmal academic performance.

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Will Byrom Be Tortured to Death?

Mississippi's pending executions of Michelle Byrom and Charles Crawford—which are not yet scheduled—have mired the state in a controversy over what constitutes "cruel and unusual" in executions.

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Robbie Fisher

Since she left her law career and position as Mississippi Nature Conservancy's state director, Robbie Fisher's main focus has been filmmaking, specifically producing films.

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Protect the Innocent: End the Death Penalty

Michelle Byrom is a textbook case of what is wrong with the state executions in Mississippi and the rest of the nation.

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For Lou’s Sake

The late New York rocker Lou Reed and his street-wise songs might seem worlds away from music made in Mississippi, but many Jackson musicians cite the musician as an important influence.

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The Wine Guy

Sommelier John Malanchak has a low-stress approach to teaching about wine.

Satellite Spots 122 Objects in Malaysia Jet Search

A French satellite scanning the Indian Ocean for remnants of a missing jetliner found a possible plane debris field containing 122 objects, a top Malaysian official said Wednesday, calling it "the most credible lead that we have."

Officials: Senate Considered Phone Company Option

The Senate Intelligence Committee three years ago secretly considered — but ultimately rejected — alternate ways for the National Security Agency to collect and store massive amounts of Americans' phone records, The Associated Press has learned.

Obama Plays Up US-Europe Bond Amid Russia Tension

President Barack Obama and European Union leaders presented a unified front Wednesday against Russia's annexation of Crimea and promoted adoption of a transatlantic trade as an antidote to Russia's influence in the region that would help Europe become less dependent on Moscow for its energy needs.

Mississippi Lawmakers Increase Budget Estimates

Top Mississippi lawmakers on Tuesday increased the estimate of how much money state government can spend this year and next.

Tuesday, March 25

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Diaz: Michelle Byrom Did Not Get a Fair Trial

Former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver E. Diaz jr. explains why Michelle Byrom did not get a fair trial and does not deserve to be executed. And he wants to abolish the death penalty.

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Same-Sex Couples Apply For Marriage Licenses in Hinds County

Same-Sex Couples applied for marriage licenses this morning at the Hinds County courthouse in Jackson.

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Soul Wired, Mama Hamil's and Outlets of Mississippi

Soul Wired Cafe offers healthy cuisine with plenty of vegetarian items, geared toward getting people to eat right and is also a cultural venue that provides a mix of music, art, and poetry with plenty of soul.

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Giacomo Puccini

The Mississippi Opera Guild will perform Giacomo Puccini's "Gianni Schicchi" along with "Pagliacci," written by Italian composer Ruggero Leoncavallo, March 29 at First Baptist Church of Ridgeland.

Malaysia Says Search to Shift to Smaller Area

China demanded Tuesday that Malaysia turn over the satellite data used to conclude that a Malaysia Airlines jetliner had crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, killing all 239 on board. Officials sharply narrowed the search area as a result of that assessment, but the zone remains as large as Texas and Oklahoma combined.

Justices Tackle Health Law Birth Control Coverage

Supreme Court justices are weighing whether corporations have religious rights that exempt them from part of the new health care law that requires coverage of birth control for employees at no extra charge.

Obama Meets Putin Ally with Ukraine Still in Mind

The thrust of his diplomatic efforts still focused on Ukraine, President Barack Obama met Tuesday with a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin as he continued his efforts to isolate Moscow over its incursion into Crimea.

Miss. College Savings Plan to Reopen Enrollment

A state board voted unanimously Monday to reopen enrollment this fall in the Mississippi Prepaid Affordable College Tuition program.

Monday, March 24

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Secretary of State Kicks Watkins; Watkins Alleges Republican Politics

The secretary of state says David Watkins misused bond money; Watkins says it's all about politics.

West Seeks to Isolate Russia Over Ukraine Dispute

Seeking to isolate Russia, the U.S. and Western allies declared Monday they are indefinitely cutting Moscow out of a major international coalition and warned they stand ready to order tougher economic penalties if Vladimir Putin presses further into Ukraine.

Ukraine to Face Its 'Graft Culture' Under Aid Plan

Reducing graft and red tape are set to be part of the conditions Ukraine will face in exchange for an international financial rescue package.

U.S. Sends More Troops, Aircraft to Search for Kony

The U.S. is sending military aircraft and more forces to assist in the hunt for fugitive African warlord Joseph Kony, more than doubling the number of American troops and airmen on the ground to 250.

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Byrom Execution This Week Unlikely

With the Mississippi State Supreme Court considering appeals from death-row prisoner Michelle Byrom, it's unlikely that the state could schedule the woman's execution in time for the date Attorney General Jim Hood requested.

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Mississippi Sheriffs to Get Pay Raises July 1

Mississippi sheriffs will get their first pay raise in several years, starting July 1.

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Dr. Paresh Ray

Jackson State University professor and researcher Dr. Paresh Ray recently became one of 30 people worldwide to receive the 2014 Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Samman Award for his research and contributions to cancer research in the fields of nanoscience and nanotechnology.

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Community Meetings and Events

Eudora Welty House's 10th Anniversary Garden Luncheon is Thursday, March 27 starting at 11 a.m. at Mississippi Museum of Art.

'Significant' Oil Spill Closes U.S. Ship Channel

No timetable has been set to reopen a major U.S. shipping channel after nearly 170,000 gallons of tar-like oil spilled into the Texas waterway, but more help was being called in Monday to contain the spill and protect important shorebird habitat.

Egypt Sentences 529 Morsi Supporters to Death

An Egyptian court on Monday sentenced to death 529 supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in connection to an attack on a police station that killed a policeman, convicting them after only two sessions in a mass trial that raised an outcry from rights activists.

Ukraine Orders Troop Pullout from Crimea

Ukraine's fledgling government ordered troops to retreat from Crimea on Monday, ending days of wavering as Western leaders tried to present a unified response to Russia's increasingly firm control of the peninsula.

Obama to Try to Rally World to Isolate Russia

President Barack Obama delved into a day of delicate diplomacy Monday as he sought to rally the international community around efforts to isolate Russia following its incursion into Ukraine.

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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, March 21

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Jackson Mayor Hopefuls Draw Battle Lines

In the first forum for the Jackson mayor's race, which the West Central Jackson Improvement Association hosted Thursday evening, several battlefronts emerged.

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Black Preschoolers More Likely to Face Suspension

Black students are more likely to be suspended from U.S. public schools—even as tiny preschoolers.

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Person of the Day: Common

Common, an actor and Grammy-winning hip-hop artist, returns to Mississippi to magnify the voices of Canton Nissan workers who say the want fair pay and better working conditions.

With Health Law, Workers Ponder the I-Quit Option

For uninsured people, the nation's new health care law may offer an escape from worry about unexpected, astronomical medical bills.

Nothing Spotted in Search for Jet, Australia Says

Search planes scoured a remote patch of the Indian Ocean but came back empty-handed Friday after a 10-hour mission looking for any sign of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, another disappointing day in one of the world's biggest aviation mysteries.

Putin Formally Gets Crimea; Ukraine, EU Sign Deal

President Vladimir Putin completed his annexation of Crimea on Friday, signing the Black Sea peninsula into Russia just as Ukraine itself sealed a deal pulling the country closer into Europe's orbit.

Miss. Legislators OK Final Version of Justice Bill

Legislation to make Mississippi's criminal justice system more efficient and less expensive won final approval Thursday from state lawmakers.

Thursday, March 20

Devin Booker and Victoria Vivians

This Friday, the top senior boys and girls of Mississippi will face off against the top senior boys and girls from Alabama in the 24th annual Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Basketball games.

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Deep South Dems Mount Comeback with Familiar Names

Democrats in the conservative Deep South are looking to recapture some old political magic in the 2014 elections.

Army General Fined, Reprimanded in Sex Case

An army general avoided jail time and was reprimanded and fined a total of $20,000 for inappropriate relationships with three subordinates in a closely watched court case.

Australia Checking 2 Objects in Search for Plane

An air search in the southern Indian Ocean for possible objects from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane described as the "best lead" so far ended for the day without success Thursday but will resume in the morning, Australian rescue officials said.

Analysis: Putin Tests Obama's Foreign Policy

For President Barack Obama, Russia's aggressive annexation of Crimea is testing central tenets of his foreign policy philosophy: his belief in the power of direct diplomacy, his preference for using economic sanctions as punishment and his inclination to proceed cautiously in order to avoid creating larger long-term problems.

GOP Titans Clash in Mississippi's Senate Race

Mississippi Republican Thad Cochran is facing his toughest primary challenge in nearly 36 years in the Senate, from a tea party favorite who casts him as an out-of-touch Washington insider.

Wednesday, March 19

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Breaking Walls with O’Brother

When it comes to creative output, Atlanta-based O'Brother flies by the seat of its collective pants.

Jackson Mayor's Poll Shows High Undecideds

An early poll about the Jackson race for mayor shows Ward 6 Councilman Tony Yarber in a dead heat with attorney Chokwe Antar Lumumba for first place. It also indicates that approximately one third of voters have not made up their minds which candidate to support.

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The Fray’s ‘Helios’ Burns up on Entry

It seems like ages since Colorado piano-pop band The Fray released something new, though it actually hasn't been at all.

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Breaking Down the Madness

Since the NCAA Tournament bracket came out at 5 p.m. Sunday, I have been studying it trying to figure out how to fill it out. I keep track of a lot of college basketball, but it is just about impossible to keep track of every team.

The Slate

Mississippi has six Division I basketball teams, but none made the field of 68 NCAA Tournament. Southern Miss did receive a bid to the NIT.

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Showcase of Talent

The Actor's Playhouse will host its annual Showcase of Talent March 22. The event is open for participants, regardless of age and experience.

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A Photographer’s Eye

James Patterson's studio, 119 Gallery, is simple, like his photography. The white walls are lined with his work.

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A Few Good Men

Especially after a certain age, if one is single, family, friends and even strangers offer commentary on your independent status that leaves you feeling like you're some sort of freak of nature who should be studied.

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Stop the Mom Wars

Frankly, the whole "being a mom" thing is challenging and all-consuming enough that most of us don't need the additional stress of judgment, guilt or questioning coming from people outside any given situation—especially from other women who probably struggle at least every once in a while in their role as a mother.

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An Overdue Homecoming

Jim Wiley had a mission. As chairman of the All American Service Persons parade committee, he tried for two and a half years to get a state parade in honor of Vietnam veterans like himself. "Because we never had one," he says.

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Jackson Women Power Players (Or Some Of Them)

These are just a few of the powerful female leaders in our city. Send us more power players to honor—email [email protected].

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Good Ideas: Health

Women's health in Jackson must encompass many things—healthy food, exercise and mental-health resources, to name a few—but wellness also depends on reproductive health, which is one of the areas where Mississippi is the farthest behind.

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Good Ideas: Security

If a woman can't make enough money to support herself and her family, she may not have the strength to get out of an abusive situation.

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Good Ideas: Leadership

Time and time again, studies show that when women's lives improve—economically, educationally, health-wise or otherwise—so do their family's.

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Good Ideas: Girl Power

If we continue to tell girls that it's not acceptable to be bossy, we are setting them up for failure. We are telling them it is not their place to lead. So they step back.

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‘Personhood’ May Be Back

The anti-abortion organization  Personhood Mississippi  filed paperwork for Initiative 41 on March 5, 2013. If supporters gather 107,216 signatures by May 14, 2014, the bill will appear on the ballot in November 2015.

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Hobby Lobby Wages War on Birth Control

The Green family is headed to Washington, D.C., for its day in court—the U.S. Supreme Court.

Stop the Execution of Michelle Byrom

Michelle Byrom is clearly not guilty of the crime for which the state plans to execute her next week.

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Stinker Quote of the Week: 'Worship'

The U.S. Constitution indeed protects the right to practice the religion of one's choosing. It does not, however, allow individuals or businesses to discriminate in the execution of that right.

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Women: Be Bold and Strive

Over the last few years, women leaders have taken our city by storm. It's refreshing to be involved in a movement chock full of community service organizers, entrepreneurs, elected officials, attorneys, filmmakers.

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An Innocent Woman? Michelle Byrom vs. Mississippi

If Mississippi executes Michelle Byrom, now 57, she will be the first woman the state has put to death in 70 years. It may also be a horrible injustice.

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War of Words Begins in Mayor’s Contest

When the robots begin calling, you know the race has begun. Before she announced that she had indeed decided to seek the mayor's office, Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon was already the target of automated robocalls.

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Grace MacMaster

As a senior in high school in Zeeland, Mich., Grace MacMaster entered a program at Careerline Tech Center, allowing her to attend a graphic-design and visual communications class for half the school day. There, she learned how to successfully communicate through graphic design.

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Proud to Be the Boss

As a woman who became my own boss in no small part due to the sexism I encountered while working for other people, I know what lies ahead for many of them as they try to become leaders in their fields, if they even choose to.

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Race You

This week kicks off race and 5K season, and hopefully with it, beautiful spring weather just begging for folks to get outside and run around.

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Get to Know: Chinese Cabbage

For those looking to get more green vegetables, but sick of the same old thing, bok choy is a different variant on a familiar veggie.

What Annexing Crimea Will Cost Russia's Government

Despite the pebble beaches and cliff-hanging castles that made Crimea famous as a Soviet resort hub, the Black Sea peninsula has long been a corruption-riddled backwater in economic terms.

Malaysia: Files Were Deleted from Flight Simulator

Investigators are trying to restore files deleted last month from the home flight simulator of the pilot aboard the missing Malaysian plane to see if they shed any light on the disappearance, Malaysia's defense minister said Wednesday.

Missing Plane Boosts Ethnic Unity in Malaysia

The baffling mystery over the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 with 239 people on March 8 has united Malaysia, a nation of numerous ethnicities, as never before in recent memory.

Ukraine's Crimea Base Taken, Commander Detained

Masked Russian-speaking troops on Wednesday seized control of Ukrainian naval headquarters in Crimea after it was stormed by militiamen.

Miss. Lawmakers Consider 2015 Borrowing Plans

Mississippi lawmakers are moving toward negotiations on state borrowing in the 2015 budget year.

State Employee Pay Proposal Stalls in Miss. Senate

Mississippi senators have rejected a proposal to give a $1,000 pay raise to all state employees. But, a top budget writer says legislators still might consider a raise for lower-paid government workers.

Tuesday, March 18

Obama Giving Medal of Honor to 24 Vets from 3 Wars

President Barack Obama is presenting 24 Medals of Honor in a rare ceremony meant to commemorate acts of bravery that the government concluded should have been recognized long time ago.

Concerns About Cancer Centers Under Health Law

Some of America's best cancer hospitals are off-limits to many of the people now signing up for coverage under the nation's new health care program.

What if the Missing Malaysia Plane is Never Found?

Ten days after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared with 239 people aboard, an exhaustive international search has produced no sign of the Boeing 777, raising an unsettling question: What if the airplane is never found?

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Immigrants Need Affordable College, Advocates Say

Immigrant-rights advocates have been working to change the law to make college more affordable for Mississippi's growing immigrant population.

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Mentoring, Telemedicine and Home Health

Last week, St. Dominic’s announced an expanded partnership with REACH Health Inc. that will allow the hospital to connect lung specialists with acute care pulmonary patients.

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Person of the Day: Wilma Mankiller

"The Cherokee Word for Water" tells the true story of Charlie Soap and his late wife, Wilma Mankiller—who was the first woman chief of the Cherokee Nation—and their efforts to organize a rural Cherokee community in Bell, Okla., to construct a water line to provide running water to the area.

Thailand Gives Radar Data 10 Days After Plane Lost

Thailand's military said Tuesday that its radar detected a plane that may have been Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 just minutes after the jetliner's communications went down, and that it didn't share the information with Malaysia earlier because it wasn't specifically asked for it.

Immigrant Activists Push to Stop Deportations

President Barack Obama's surprise announcement last week that his administration would change its deportation policy to become more "humane" shows how the immigration battle has narrowed after months of congressional deadlock.

Putin Signs Treaty, Adds Crimea to Map of Russia

With a sweep of his pen, President Vladimir Putin added Crimea to the map of Russia on Tuesday, describing the move as correcting past injustice and responding to what he called Western encroachment upon Russia's vital interests.

Obama Invites G7 Leaders for Meeting on Ukraine

President Barack Obama is gathering allied leaders for a meeting in Europe next week to discuss further action in response to Russia's involvement in Ukraine.

Miss. House Approves Criminal Justice Changes

A bill that proposes several changes to Mississippi's criminal justice system is moving closer to Gov. Phil Bryant's desk.

Miss. Lawmakers Moving Toward Budget Negotiations

Mississippi lawmakers are moving closer to final negotiations on a $6 billion state budget for the year that begins July 1.

Monday, March 17

United Airlines 1263 Diverted to Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers Airport

United Flight 1263 on route from Chicago to New Orleans developed a mechanical problem and landed at the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International airport at approximately 9:30 pm.

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Analysis: No Safe Wards in Mayor's Race

As of this morning, nine individuals—two women and seven men—have said they would participate in the special election to replace late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba.

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Heroin on the Rise in South Mississippi

Heroin, a deadly drug that plagues other areas of the nation, is on the rise in South Mississippi.

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Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez

Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez is an activist for LGBT rights and immigrant issues, urging Congress to pass the DREAM Act to allow children who were brought to the U.S. without documentation an opportunity for conditional permanent residency status.

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Community Meetings and Events

The Street Carnival at Sal & Mookie's New York Pizza and Ice Cream Joint is Saturday, March 22, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

US Announces Sanctions Against Russian Officials

President Barack Obama on Monday imposed sanctions against Russian officials, including advisers to President Vladimir Putin, for their support of Crimea's vote to secede from Ukraine.

Obama, Palestinian Leader Meet as Deadline Nears

A deadline fast approaching, President Barack Obama is seeking to ease the logjam in elusive Mideast peace talks and keep Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas from walking away, despite few signs that either Palestinians or Israelis are prepared to budge on key sticking points.

St. Pat's Parades Proceed Amid Tension Over Gays

A weekend of St. Patrick's Day revelry and tensions over the exclusion of gays in some of the celebrations was culminating Monday in New York, where Guinness beer and the city's new mayor planned to sit out the world's largest parade celebrating Irish heritage.

10 Local Stories of the Week

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

Saturday, March 15

Miss. Enrollment in Health Exchange Tops 25,500

New figures show 25,554 Mississippi residents have signed up for private health insurance using a website run by the federal government. That's far short of the original estimate of 46,400 for the first five months.

Friday, March 14

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Mayoral Candidates Announce, Campaign Chicanery Follows

In announcing his plans to seek the mayor's office this week, Sen. John Horhn touted two decades worth of his legislative accomplishments.

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Under Pressure, Obama Vows to Examine Deportations

With prospects for real immigration reform fading, President Barack Obama is yielding to pressure from some of his staunchest allies and looking for ways to act without Congress to ease the suffering caused by deportation.

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Jackson Rugby Football Club

For the first time in several years, the Jackson Rugby Football Club will compete in the playoffs for the Southern Conference Division Championships. Even more thrilling, the team is vying for first place.

After Ukraine Protest, Radical Group Eyes Power

Shoppers in the center of Kiev were out of luck one recent afternoon: A clothing store and a cell phone shop were occupied by black-clad men in masks, and bulletproof vests. Not far away, toughs from the same group patrolled a major Kiev hotel, scaring visitors with their baseball bats, handguns and balaclavas.

Search for Lost Jet Expands Amid Signs it Flew On

The search for the missing Malaysian jetliner expanded east and west on Friday after American officials said it was emitting signals to satellites for hours after its last contact with air traffic control nearly a week ago over the South China Sea.

School Year Start Date Bill Goes to Miss. Governor

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant hasn't decided whether to sign a bill that would erase a school calendar law he signed two years ago, a top aide said Thursday.

Thursday, March 13

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'Religious Freedom,' School Voucher, Drug Testing Bills Pass on Big Deadline Day

Despite their best efforts to whip up enough votes for passage, supporters of the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, proposal had to change course late Wednesday, just before a critical legislative deadline.

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Senate Passes 'Irrelevant' Anti-Abortion Bill

The Mississippi Senate decided Tuesday to assert its authority over women's reproductive health decisions when it passed HB 1400, a bill that prohibits abortions after 20 weeks.

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Jairus Byrd

Former Buffalo Bills free safety Jairus Byrd's first stop was New Orleans, and the Saints didn't let him out the door. Byrd signed with New Orleans after five seasons with the Bills.

Miss. House Keeps Religious Practices Bill Alive

Mississippi House members want to study a much-disputed religious practices bill, keeping it alive for possible further action.

GOP Leaders: Skirting Abortion Issue Not an Answer

Shying away from social issues is not a winning strategy for Republicans, whose rhetoric on those subjects has at times alienated voters and cost the GOP elections, party leaders are telling anti-abortion activists.

Details on Ships, Planes Searching for Missing Jet

Nearly every navy with a presence in Southeast Asia is involved in the extensive search for the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that disappeared early Saturday.

Obama to Order Strengthened Overtime Pay Rules

President Barack Obama is seeking changes in overtime rules that will make millions of workers eligible for time-and-a-half pay for their extra work.

Miss. Common Core Opponents Lose Spending Fight

Mississippi will keep spending money to implement the Common Core state standards for public schools if senators have their way.

Wednesday, March 12

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Wild Wrangler

Willie Bennett is the Animal Care Supervisor at the Jackson Zoo.

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Saints Cuts

This offseason has seen the New Orleans Saints make cuts left and right, some of which were obvious—but last week, the team made cuts that were a bit of a shock.

The Slate

Only one team is left undefeated in the nation in men's college basketball: The Wichita State Shockers have a perfect 34-0 record.

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The Art of Tribute

If the Neilsen ratings are to be believed, 13.95 million people watched "The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute To The Beatles."

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Davina and the Vagabonds' Distinctive Mix

Davina Sowers started playing the piano when she was a little girl. Unlike most, she kept going after the lessons ended. Like even fewer, she now makes her living pounding the keys.

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Japan Comes to Jackson

The Japan-America Society of Mississippi is partnering with the Crossroads Film Festival to bring a little bit of Japanese culture to the metro area, by showing three Japanese films at Madison Malco Grandview theater starting March 13.

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Steve Hendrix: Lost in the Art

Steve Hendrix's long, slender hands might indicate that he has psychic abilities, if you believe in that sort of thing.

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Home on the Range: A Review of ‘Banished’

The challenge of a good city builder is all in the planning. Never is the player expected to react on the fly—that's the domain of real-time strategy.

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The Ultimate Comfort Food

Only one meal is worth ordering at O'Connor's—not because it's the only good thing on the menu, which I'm sure it isn't, but because it is so delicious and so suited to its location that to order anything else would be a crime.

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St Paddy's Parade New Route

Due to the construction on E. Capitol Street underway to make the street two-way, the St. Paddy's Parade route is changing this year.

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Girl About Town’s St. Paddy’s Plan

A seasoned veteran of the Mal’s St. Paddy’s Parade day, Girl About Town Julie Skipper shares her tips for making the most of it.

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The Southern Survivalist’s Guide to St. Paddy’s (Or, ‘Let’s Go Drinking, Mississippi’)

For walking the Mal's St. Paddy's Parade—a Mardi Gras-style festival held in downtown Jackson each March for more than three decades—and the subsequent afternoon and evening revelries, I advise you to strap up much the same as you would to fight the zombies.

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The JFP Interview with Malcolm White: Director of Optimism

It took Malcolm White a few years to find the right place to anchor his St. Patrick's Day parade.

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Business to Business

Jackson is a melting pot of diversity. We are a ‘family’ in this great city.

Stop Endangering Lives with ‘Hot’ Police Pursuits

Here in Jackson, the police department has caught up with modern criminal-justice best practices based on the reality that high-speed police pursuits must be limited to situations where the risk of not pursuing is higher than the risk of a pursuit.

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Free-the-Land Man (For Chokwe Lumumba)

Poet and fiction writer C. Liegh McInnis, the editor of Black Magnolias, read this poem at Mayor Lumumba's Celebration of Life on March 8.

Question o' the Week: It’s almost time for Mal’s St. Paddy’s parade! This year’s theme is “Drink Local, Think Global”—what’s your favorite local drinking spot?

It’s almost time for Mal’s St. Paddy’s parade! This year’s theme is “Drink Local, Think Global”—what’s your favorite local drinking spot?

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‘Hot’ Madison Police Pursuit Under Investigation

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigations is reviewing policies of the Madison Police Department after its officers engaged in a high-speed pursuit through the streets of Jackson on Sunday, Feb. 23.

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Cotton Baronich

"Cotton" Baronich helps women with their chairs. He adds "dahlin'" to just about every sentence when he speaks with them. That's the kind of old-school southern gentleman he is—his daddy raised him up right. He clearly loves women, and he loves music.

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Irish Wisdom, Irish Pride

While Ireland and Mississippi might be miles apart, geographically and culturally, the two have more in common than you might believe.

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The Light of Activists

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer. In celebration of the gains the SNCC made and in recognition of those who lost their lives, the Mississippi Museum of Art is hosting a number of exhibits, centered on "This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement."

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Calling Jackson Filmmakers

The 48 Hour Film Project, formed in 2001 and based out of Washington, D.C., is an international competition in which teams of amateur and professional filmmakers make short films over the duration of a selected weekend.

Malaysia Defends Search for Missing Jet

Malaysian authorities defended their handling of the hunt for the missing Boeing 777 on Wednesday but acknowledged they still are unsure which direction the plane was headed when it disappeared, highlighting the massive task facing an international search now in its fifth day.

G7 Leaders: No Recognition of Crimea Referendum

The Group of 7 world leaders say they won't recognize results of a referendum for the Crimea region to split from Ukraine and join Russia.

Obama to Host New Ukrainian PM at White House

In a diplomatic dig at Russia, President Barack Obama is hosting the new Ukrainian prime minister at the White House, a high-profile gesture aimed at cementing the West's allegiance to Ukraine's fledgling government.

House Seeks Repeal of Later School Start Mandate

House leaders are giving up on requiring school to start later in August.

Tuesday, March 11

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City Veterans First to Launch Mayor Bids

The first two individuals to formally announce that they will participate in the special election for mayor of Jackson are both veterans of city government—former Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. and Ward 6 Councilman Tony Yarber.

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UMMC, Innovate Mississippi and Entergy

March 6 saw two important new developments for University of Mississippi Medical Center.

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Judge James D. Bell

Judge James D. Bell, a Mississippi native and former circuit, chancery and county judge, published "Vampire Defense" in 2012 through Sartoris Literary Group in Jackson.

Miss. Senate Passes Amended 20-week Abortion Ban

Mississippi House and Senate members must work out differences on a bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks' gestation.

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Controversial ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill Moves Forward

After a week of ups and downs for a measure that civil-liberties groups say could lead to legalized discrimination of LGBTQ people, a modified version now goes to the House of Representatives for debate.

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Does He Love Me?

Just as mental illness is a serious disease, so is alcoholism. The National Institutes of Health says most people who seek treatment are able to fight alcoholism.

Ukraine's Crimea Seeks to Become Independent State

The Crimean parliament voted Tuesday that the Black Sea peninsula will declare itself an independent state if its residents agree to split off from Ukraine and join Russia in a referendum.

Judge's Order Preserves NSA Surveillance Records

A federal judge in San Francisco stopped the destruction of millions of telephone records collected by the National Security Agency more than five years ago.

Hunt for Missing Jet Widens to Distant Waters

Authorities are expanding their search for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane to the Malacca Strait, far from its last confirmed location, the airline said Tuesday, injecting new mystery into an investigation that so far has failed to come up with any answers.

Senator: CIA Improperly Searched Computer Network

The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Tuesday the CIA improperly searched a stand-alone computer network established for Congress in its investigation of allegations of CIA abuse in a Bush-era detention and interrogation program and the agency's own inspector general has referred the matter to the Justice Department.

Sheriff: Leads Developing in Case of Missing Girl

Madison County Sheriff Randy Tucker says his office is investigating numerous leads in the search for a 2-year-old girl missing for more than a week.

Monday, March 10

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As Lumumba Laid to Rest, Election Begins

As expected, the special election to replace Chokwe Lumumba, who died in late February, is now in full swing—just days after the late mayor's funeral.

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Americans Board Public Transit in Booming Numbers

Americans are boarding public buses, trains and subways in greater numbers than any time since the suburbs began booming.

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Holt Collier

During the Civil War, Holt Collier participated alongside his masters in Company I of the Ninth Texas Cavalry and served as a Confederate spy. During the course of his lifetime, Collier is credited with killing more than 3,000 bears, surpassing the combined total of legendary white frontiersmen Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, FWS information shows.

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Community Meetings and Events

The Mal's St. Paddy's Parade is Saturday, March 15, starting at 1 p.m.

Investigators Chase 'Every Angle' in Missing Jet

Rescue helicopters and ships searching for a Malaysia Airlines jet rushed Monday to investigate a yellow object that looked like a life raft. It turned out to be moss-covered trash floating in the ocean.

In China, Brutality Yields Confessions of Graft

China's government is under strong pressure to fight rampant corruption in its ranks, faced with the anger of an increasingly prosperous, well-educated and Internet-savvy public. However, the party's methods for extracting confessions expose its 85 million members and their families to the risk of abuse.

U.S. Network to Scan Workers with Secret Clearances

U.S. intelligence officials are planning a sweeping system of electronic monitoring that would tap into government, financial and other databases to scan the behavior of many of the 5 million federal employees with secret clearances, current and former officials told The Associated Press.

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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.

Sunday, March 9

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Hundreds Celebrate Chokwe Lumumba's Life

They came in suits, dresses, dashikis and tunics. They wore an assortment of headwear, everything from riding caps to berets, kufis, hijab and headwraps. They invoked Jesus Christ, Allah and the Yoruba orishas.

Saturday, March 8

Cochran: Corps Adds $14M for Mississippi Projects

Mississippi is one of only four states receiving additional funds from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for dredging and flood control along its major tributaries, according to U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran.

Friday, March 7

As U.S. States Allow Pot Sales, Dutch Reverse Course

A young man at a bus stop hisses at a passer-by: "What you looking for ... marijuana?" It's a scene of street peddling that the Netherlands hoped to stamp out in the 1970s when it launched a policy of tolerating "coffee shops" where people could buy and smoke pot freely.

GOP Pushes Social Issues at Conservative Showcase

Some of the GOP's most prominent conservatives insisted Friday that Republicans should emphasize hot-button social issues like abortion and gay marriage in this year's midterm elections, exposing an ideological divide within a party trying to capture the Senate and then the White House.

Half of Millennials More Likely to Lean Democratic

Most of America's young adults are single, don't go to church and while half say they have no loyalty to a political party, when pushed they tend to swing further left politically than those before them.

Russia, Ukraine Feud Over Sniper Carnage

One of the biggest mysteries hanging over the protest mayhem that drove Ukraine's president from power: Who was behind the snipers who sowed death and terror in Kiev?

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Jackson Housing Chief Open to Selling Midtown Units

Sheila Jackson, executive director of the Jackson Housing Authority, says she is considering making the rental duplexes at its Midtown housing development available for purchase at some point in the future.

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Chokwe Lumumba Celebration of Life Service Info

The Honorable Mayor Chokwe Lumumba will lie in state at City Hall on Friday, March 7, 2014.

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Dianna Williams

When she was little, Dancing Dolls LLC coach and founder Dianna Williams walked around on her tip-toes saying, "Mommy, I want to be a ballerina!" Since the tender age of 4, she has loved the art of dance.

Abbas: No Recognition of Israel as Jewish State

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said there is "no way" he will recognize Israel as a Jewish state and accept a Palestinian capital in just a portion of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, rebuffing what Palestinians fear will be key elements of a U.S. peace proposal.

N. Korea Elections: 0 pct Drama, 100 pct Mandatory

North Korean voters will make a choice Sunday when they elect a new national legislature, but not for a candidate. The ruling elite have already done that for them, and there's only one per district.

Obama's Warnings Brushed Aside by Russia's Putin

One by one, President Barack Obama's warnings to Russia are being brushed aside by President Vladimir Putin, who appears to only be speeding up efforts to formally stake his claim to Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

Ukraine Oligarchs Get Key Posts in Bid for Unity

In a surprising move after Russia flexed its military might in the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine's new leadership has reached out to oligarchs for help—appointing them as governors in eastern regions where loyalties to Moscow are strong.

Lawmakers Seek Agreement on Medical Clinic Grants

The Mississippi House and Senate will attempt to work out their differences on a proposal to expand state subsidies to health clinics.

Thursday, March 6

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Anti-Labor Bills an 'Attack on Democracy'?

Yesterday, the Mississippi House of Representatives advanced several bills that would restrict labor unionizing and picketing activities, which Chandler called an "attack on the democracy."

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Doctors Hope for Cure in a 2nd Baby Born with HIV

A second American baby born with the AIDS virus may have had her infection put into remission and possibly cured by very early treatment—in this instance, four hours after birth.

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Tournament of the Day: SWAC Men's Basketball Tournament

A few men's basketball conference tournaments have already started, but the majority of them won't begin until next week, including the SWAC Men's Basketball Tournament in Houston, Texas.

Crimea Lawmakers Schedule Vote on Joining Russia

Lawmakers in Crimea declared their intention Thursday to split from Ukraine and join Russia instead, and scheduled a referendum in 10 days for voters to decide the fate of the disputed peninsula. Russia's parliament, clearly savoring the action, introduced a bill intended to make this happen.

China Takes Aim at Pollution After Years of Growth

Combatting pollution has shot up the agenda of the ruling Communist Party, which for years pushed for rapid economic development with little concern about the environmental impact.

EU Leaders Weighing Sanctions Against Russia

Russia will face sanctions over its military incursion in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula unless it withdraws its troops or engages in credible talks to defuse the situation, European leaders said Thursday.

U.S. Announces Visa Restrictions on Some Russians

The Obama administration slapped new visa restrictions Thursday on pro-Russian opponents of the new Ukraine government in Kiev and cleared the way for financial sanctions as the West began punishing Moscow for its occupation of Ukraine's Crimea region.

1 Version of Teacher Pay Raise Clears Miss. Senate

Teacher pay raise proposals gained momentum Wednesday at the Mississippi Capitol.

Wednesday, March 5

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Look Beyond the Combine

Some call it the underwear Olympics because it involves guys running around in tight-fitting clothing, getting timed, measured and analyzed. The NFL Combine is the first chance to see the future draft class of 2014.

The Slate

A Mississippi team in the NCAA Tournament might be a long shot. Every team would pretty much have to win its conference tournament to go dancing.

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Wayward Awards

The Grammys have fallen to industry-influenced promotion of artists like four-time winner Macklemore rather than representing music creators and listeners.

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Cheese, Mascara and Life Lessons

Sometimes you just have to remember to keep your head up.

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Playing an Overseer in ‘12 Years A Slave’

Jordan Sudduth played an extra in the 2014 Best Picture winner “12 Years a Slave,” an experience he found transformative.

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We’re Going to the Chapel

Brandon Herd and his new wife, Madelyn, skipped town and went to Memphis to get married.

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Love: A Strength of Character

A character trait is a distinctive feature influencing how you relate to the world and is expressed in thoughts, actions and feelings.

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Jackson Tragedy: The RNA, Revisited

It's hard to have a conversation with just about anyone about Chokwe Lumumba without hearing "RNA" at least once.

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Brother Lumumba, A True Leader

Leaders don't stop leading when the election is over. Leaders don't pop up only during election year. Leaders lead even when there is nothing to win except the people's prize.

Take a Breath, Jackson

Still, it is completely irresponsible for both elected officials and supposedly "real" media outlets to spread the rumor that Lumumba was murdered.

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Stinker Quote of the Week: 'Murdered'

Stokes' remarks represent not only an ugly distraction as Jackson continues to grieve Lumumba's loss and wonder what the future holds for their city government, but a painful distraction for Lumumba's family.

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At Youth Jail, a Question of Progress

Two years after a federal consent decree and a lawsuit against the Hinds County Board of Supervisors over abuse that D.I. and other children say they suffered at the Hinds County-run youth jail, attorneys for the plaintiffs and county officials are at an impasse over exactly how much progress has been made at the facility.

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Money Ain’t a Thing

After years of underfunding public education in Mississippi, teachers are finally getting some love from the state Legislature.

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Off and Running

No matter what anyone says, the campaign to replace the late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba is already in full swing.

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The Lumumba Legacy: What Happens Now?

Chokwe Lumumba was the first to admit that he was a radical. He was never satisfied with the status quo. He became a lawyer for the express purpose of defending people from civil-rights abuses.

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‘Baba’ Chokwe: Lumumba the Mentor

Chokew Lumumba was a living, breathing history lesson, especially for up-and-coming human-rights attorneys interested in understanding the relationship between the fight for civil rights and American-style justice and fighting it out in courtrooms.

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Dr. Justin Turner

Familiar with hard times and a witness to his mother's sacrifices, Dr. Justin Turner wanted to make his mom, Janice Armstrong, proud.

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Charcoal and Chimney Smoke at Iron Horse

For many, The Iron Horse Grill carries fond memories of house fried tortilla chips dipped into bowls of cilantro- and chili- studded salsa, sizzling platters of fajitas and a habanero cream sauce that was to die for.

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Humana Goes to Fondren Corner

Humana is back to host another event on health insurance plans.

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Fondren’s New Shutterbug

Lately, Sharon Coker's home has felt a little crowded, with her family and photography business all under one roof.

Israel Tightens Grip on Heart of West Bank

Israel seeks to keep large chunks of Area C, while the Palestinians demand a near-total Israeli pullout so they can establish a state in the West Bank along with two other territories Israel captured in 1967, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

Texas Primary Leaves Tea Party Influence Unsettled

The first primary in what Republicans hope is a triumphant election year sent a message that U.S. Sen Ted Cruz and the tea party still wield considerable influence in one of the nation's most conservative states.

Diplomatic Exit for Ukraine? Talks, $15B in EU Aid

The European Union prepared a $15 billion aid package to Ukraine on Wednesday and froze the assets of 18 people blamed for looting the treasury of the nearly bankrupt country.

Teacher Pay Raise Plan Moves to Miss. Senate

The head of an educators' union is praising Mississippi lawmakers for moving forward with a teacher pay raise proposal. But, he's asking them to do more.

Tuesday, March 4

Putin Cools Tensions in Ukraine, Kerry in Kiev

Stepping back from the brink of war, Vladimir Putin talked tough but cooled tensions in the Ukraine crisis in his first comments since its president fled, saying Tuesday that Russia has no intention "to fight the Ukrainian people" but reserved the right to use force.

Studies Show Big Promise for HIV Prevention Drug

Exciting research suggests that a shot every one to three months may someday give an alternative to the daily pills that some people take now to cut their risk of getting HIV.

Ky. to Use Outside Counsel in Gay-Marriage Case

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said Tuesday that the state will hire outside attorneys to appeal a decision granting legal recognition to same-sex couples married in other states and countries after the attorney general announced that he would not pursue the case further.

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Stamps Wants Discernment, Small Pool for Mayor's Race

In a scene reminiscent of the dramatic cable series "The Wire," Ward 4 Councilman De'Keither Stamps invited potential mayoral contenders and city contractors to a City Hall press conference this morning to kick off a week of prayer and discernment.

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New Restaurant and Flight Developments for Jackson

A number of Jackson restaurants have big plans in store for the near future.

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Keller Williams

If there's one word to describe musician Keller Williams, it might be "energy." The self-taught 44-year-old performer can play multiple instruments and has been dubbed a one-man jam band by audiences all over the world.

Eyes on GOP as Texas Holds Nation's 1st Primary

Texas is holding the nation's first primary election Tuesday with a political free-for-all in Republican races that could push the state further right, though Democrats are calling it the next big battleground on the electoral map.

U.S. Prepares $1B Aid Package for Troubled Ukraine

Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Kiev Tuesday to show U.S. support for the fledgling Ukraine government, and the Obama administration announced with his arrival a $1 billion energy subsidy package.

Putin: Russia Has Right to Use Force in Ukraine

Accusing the West of encouraging an "unconstitutional coup" in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Moscow reserves the right to use its military to protect Russians there but voiced hope it won't need to do so.

Reeves Unveiling New Teacher Pay Raise Proposal

The Mississippi Senate will consider a teacher pay raise plan that's different from a proposal already passed by the House.

Black Caucus Cites Medicaid as Unaddressed Issue

The Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus chairman says Medicaid expansion is one of the biggest issues lawmakers are failing to address this year.

Monday, March 3

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Council Sets April 8 Special Election to Replace Lumumba

At a meeting of the Jackson City Council, after some debate among members, the council set the date of the special election for the late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba's seat: April 8, 2014.

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A Push to Draft Chokwe Antar Lumumba as Mayor

As Jackson ponders the question of who will step into the mayor's seat after the sudden death of Chokwe Lumumba last week, some are looking at Lumumba's son, Chokwe Antar, as a viable option.

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'12 Years a Slave' Rises Up at Academy Awards

Perhaps atoning for past sins, Hollywood named the brutal, unshrinking historical drama "12 Years a Slave" best picture at the 86th annual Academy Awards.

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Bryan Reisberg

New York filmmaker Bryan Reisberg recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to put the finishing touches on his debut movie, "Big Significant Things," the majority of which he filmed in Mississippi.

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Community Meetings and Events

Sip & Shop Jackson: Fashion Show Edition is Saturday, March 8, from 1 p.m.-6 p.m. at Arts Center of Mississippi.

Clerk Will Follow Judge's Orders on Gay Marriage

The elected clerk of a Detroit-area county says she'll follow the orders of a judge when it comes to same-sex marriage, not Michigan's attorney general.

Obama, Netanyahu to Meet on Iran, Mideast Peace

Seeking to keep a pair of delicate diplomatic efforts afloat, President Barack Obama will personally appeal for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to move forward on peace talks with the Palestinians.

Moscow: Troops in Ukraine Defending Russians

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday sought to justify the use of Russian troops streaming into neighboring Ukraine's Crimea region as a necessary protection for his country's citizens living there, and called on Kiev to return to Feb. 21 deal reached between opposing Ukrainian sides that Moscow did not sign.

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10 Local Stories of the Week

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

Saturday, March 1

Primaries Offer 1st Major Test of Voter ID Laws

In elections that begin next week, voters in 10 states will be required to present photo identification before casting ballots—the first major test of voter ID laws after years of legal challenges arguing that the measures are designed to suppress voting.