BC-MS--Mississippi News Digest,1st Ld-Writethru,ADVISORY, MS

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Associated Press

Posted on April 16, 2013 at 6:30 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 16 at 6:30 PM

Good evening, Mississippi editors.

The news editor is Brian Schwaner (1-504-523-3931). The AP photographer is Rogelio Solis. If you have contributions for or questions about the Mississippi report, call 1-800-222-0046 or 1-601-948-5897. To report technical problems: 1-800-469-1362. AP stories, along with the photos that accompany them, can also be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com. Reruns are also available from the Service Desk (877-836-9477).

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

SENATE-RICIN

WASHINGTON — An envelope addressed to Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi twice tested positive Tuesday for ricin, a potentially fatal poison, congressional officials said, heightening concerns about terrorism a day after a bombing killed three and left more than 170 injured at the Boston Marathon. One senator, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, said authorities have a suspect in the fast-moving ricin case, but she did not say if an arrest had been made. She added the letter was from an individual who frequently writes lawmakers. The FBI and U.S. Capitol Police are both investigating. Both declined to comment. Late Tuesday, Wicker released a statement acknowledging the letter and said it was sent to his Washington office. By Donna Cassata.

With:

SENATE-RICIN-MISSISSIPPI REAX

JACKSON, Miss. — The reaction of other members of Mississippi's congressional delegation to a poisoned letter being sent to Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker? In a word — "crazy." House Republicans Alan Nunnelee of Tupelo and Gregg Harper of Pearl, as well as House Democrat Bennie Thompson of Bolton expressed sympathy for Wicker. They say the letter carrying potentially fatal ricin is a reminder of dangers public officials face. By Jeff Amy and Emily Wagster Pettus.

OTHER TOP STORIES

ABORTION-MISSISSIPPI

JACKSON, Miss. —Mississippi's only abortion clinic continued seeing patients Tuesday, the day after a federal judge temporarily stopped the state from closing it. Several people wearing florescent yellow vests labeled "Clinic Escort" helped women find parking places and walked with them into the cherry pink building in a Jackson retail district. Outside an iron fence that separates Jackson Women's Health Organization from the street, abortion opponents stood on a sidewalk and implored women not to end their pregnancies. By Emily Wagster Pettus.

COLLEGE FUNDING FORMULA

JACKSON, Miss. — The College Board will consider Thursday a new funding formula meant to equalize state money among the state's eight universities. In recent years, the eight universities have gotten static shares of the overall state funding pie, even as enrollments have shrunk at some and grown at others. Combined with the fact that some types of classes cost more to teach, Higher Education Chancellor Hank Bounds says state funding has gotten out of line, with the University of Southern Mississippi and Delta State University getting comparatively more money, while the University of Mississippi and Mississippi University for Women get comparatively less. By Jeff Amy.

JUDICIAL BRIBERY-SCRUGGS APPEAL

JACKSON, Miss. — After losing a key appeal, disbarred Mississippi attorney Richard "Dickie" Scruggs asked to return to federal prison to resume serving out a seven-year prison sentence for trying to illegally influence a judge. Scruggs, 66, was freed on $2 million bond in December while he appealed a conviction for improperly influencing then-Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter. The judge was presiding over a lawsuit between Scruggs and another lawyer who were fighting over money. By Holbrook Mohr.

AIR FORCE SEX SCANDAL

BILOXI, Miss. — The U.S. Air Force has moved the military trial of an instructor allegedly involved in a sex scandal at a South Texas base to Mississippi. Col. Polly Kenny, spokeswoman for the Air Force on the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland case, said the trial is being held this week at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss., because the airman, Tech. Sgt. Bobby D. Bass, was assigned to Keesler when charges were brought against him in 2012.

KATRINA-FLOODING TRIAL

NEW ORLEANS — The Army Corps of Engineers built a "tragically flawed" levee system for New Orleans — but isn't liable for claims that excavation work by a government contractor weakened a floodwall and caused it to breach in two places during Hurricane Katrina, a federal judge has ruled. U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. said he can't hold the Corps or its contractor, Washington Group International Inc., responsible for the 2005 failure of a floodwall meant to protect the city's Lower 9th Ward and neighboring St. Bernard Parish. By Michael Kunzelman.

BUSINESS

OBAMA-TVA

WASHINGTON — In a political role reversal, Republicans are blasting President Barack Obama's plan to consider selling the Tennessee Valley Authority, an icon of the New Deal long targeted by conservatives as an example of government overreach. Obama's 2014 budget proposal calls for a strategic review of the TVA, the nation's largest public utility with 9 million customers in seven states from Virginia to Mississippi. By Matthew Daly.

AP Photos WX203, WX202, WX204, WX201.

With: BC-Obama-TVA-Summary Box

MERCEDES PLANT-UNIONS

VANCE, Ala. — A major union is trying to organize workers at Alabama's Mercedes-Benz plant near Tuscaloosa. The Tuscaloosa News reports that the United Auto Workers has created a website -- uawvance.com -- targeting workers at the plant in Vance.

MISSISSIPPI NEWS IN BRIEF

WASTEWATER TESTING INDICTMENT

JACKSON, Miss. — A hearing is scheduled Wednesday on a motion to dismiss the charges against a laboratory owner charged with faking wastewater samples she was hired to test for a company in Mississippi. Tennie White, who owns Mississippi Environmental Analytical Laboratories Inc., was indicted Nov. 7 in U.S. District Court in Jackson.

MEDICINAL GARDEN

OXFORD, Miss. — The University of Mississippi will formally dedicate its new Maynard W. Quimby Medicinal Plant Garden facility on Wednesday on the Oxford campus. Officials say the plant collection helps with teaching and research on drug discovery for the School of Pharmacy.

MERIDIAN MAYOR'S ELECTION

MERIDIAN, Miss. — Independent mayoral candidate Walter Patton's name will on the June 4 general election ballot in Meridian. The local election board denied a challenge to Patton's candidacy.

USM-TORNADO RECOVERY

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — The University of Southern Mississippi's plans to recover from a February tornado that hit the Hattiesburg campus include a landscaping project. USM officials announced the project Monday.

AIR FORCE SEX SCANDAL

BILOXI, Miss. — The U.S. Air Force has moved the military trial of an instructor allegedly involved in a sex scandal at South Texas base to Mississippi.

MS-XGR-CHILD ABUSE BILL

JACKSON, Miss. — Gov. Phil Bryant has signed into a law a bill that prosecutors say bridges the gap between legal and medical definitions of child abuse and takes a stair-step approach to penalizing violators.

SOUTHAVEN MAYOR-TRIAL

HERNANDO, Miss. — Southaven Mayor Greg Davis' trial for embezzlement and false pretense has been scheduled for Aug. 19, more than two months after local municipal elections.

EX-CEO PLEADS

JACKSON, Miss. — A former bank executive has pleaded guilty to bank fraud and money laundering. U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis and FBI Special Agent in Charge Daniel McMullen said Larry Barnette Hill, 58, of Meadville, entered the plea Monday in federal court in Jackson.

MEDICAL KICKBACK SCHEME

ABERDEEN, Miss. — Former Panola County administrator David Chandler has asked a judge to give him more time to appeal his guilty plea to charges in an alleged kickback scheme at Tri-Lakes Medical Center in Batesville. However, the deadline for Chandler to file an appeal passed two weeks ago.

WATER DEPARTMENT-GREENVILLE

GREENVILLE, Miss. — The city of Greenville has received application from 20 people for the vacant water department director's position. The application deadline is 5 p.m. Friday.

HINDS-ACT SCHOLARSHIPS

RAYMOND, Miss. — Hinds Community College is increasing the amount of the ACT scholarship awards, beginning with the fall 2013 term. The school says in a news release that for each term, students who have a score of 29 and above on the ACT can receive a $3,000 Presidential Scholarship.

MEMBERS EXCHANGE

DELTA SCHOOLS-TESTING

GREENVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi schools have about two weeks before statewide and subject area testing begins. In Washington County, school districts have been offering benchmark assessments throughout the school year to gauge student progress. By Nicole Sheriff, Delta Democrat Times.

___

The AP-Jackson, Miss.

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