- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

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Aug. 15

The Vicksburg Post on the need to change Mississippi’s state flag:

Once again, the issue of the Mississippi state flag has come up for debate.

This time the call to change the flag came from one of the state’s leaders - Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker.

In a speech at a meeting of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership, Wicker, who denounced the weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, during a white nationalist rally, said a new state flag without the Confederate battle emblem would be more unifying.

“I hate to use a tragedy like this, a criminal act of murder, to advance policy,” Wicker said, “But certainly they have no right to be using our state flag as a symbol of white supremacy . It would be more unifying if we put this Mississippi flag in a museum and replaced it with something that was more unifying. That is still my position.”

He’s right.

The Confederate battle emblem has been adopted as a symbol for white supremacy groups from the Ku Klux Klan to the American Nazi Party and other radical hate groups in the United States spreading their gospel of hate and ignorance against blacks, Jews, Hispanics and other immigrants who live and share the same freedoms as any other citizen.

And it’s ironic that Mississippi, which is trying to change its image away from the perception of being a backward area where racism and bigotry still exists, would refuse to remove one of the more outward symbols exemplifying the exact negative image the state is trying to change.

It makes one wonder if our state leaders are really as serious about changing Mississippi’s image as they would lead us to believe.

There have been previous attempts to change the flag. One was a referendum in 2000 to remove the battle emblem from the state flag.

More recently, District 55 Rep. Oscar Denton, D-Vicksburg, filed a bill to change the flag, which failed in committee.

We in Mississippi are proud of our history, as we should be. But we must also realize that some of the symbols of that history, like the one on our flag that flies from flag poles from Tupelo to Waveland, are no longer acceptable.

If we are serious about improving our image and showing the world we are serious about it, the first place to start is fluttering over our heads. It’s time to change the flag.

Online: https://www.vicksburgpost.com/

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Aug. 15

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal evaluates the strength of the region’s position in the competition for a new auto plant:

When a new collaboration between Toyota and Mazda was announced earlier this month, the initial local reaction included at least a little bit of angst.

The two Japanese automakers said they would join together to construct a $1.6-billion U.S. assembly plant to build the Toyota Corolla and a Mazda crossover vehicle. Since Toyota’s plant in Blue Springs is already making Corollas, there were early concerns the new plant would lead to a slowdown of the Northeast Mississippi one.

As Toyota officials allayed those fears, the mood quickly turned to hope. Mississippi - and Blue Springs - were listed on speculative short lists that tried to predict where the new plant, and its promise of 4,000 jobs, would land.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said the state was ready to grow its existing partnership with Toyota, as reported by Daily Journal business editor Dennis Seid.

One advantage Mississippi would have is the 2 million-square-foot plant that began production six years ago. Not only does it already have experience building Corollas - and proximity to suppliers for making the vehicle - its 1,700 acre site already has a pad built to match the current plant’s design.

With Toyota in Blue Springs and Nissan having a plant in Canton, Mississippi is developing a track record for automotive manufacturing. A recent study found that automotive-related industries are in 32 counties across the state.

It has been more than 10 years since Toyota first announced its plans to build in Blue Springs, and we’ve already seen a deep impact.

The company employs 2,000 workers at its Blue Springs plant, and some 2,000 more work at one of its many suppliers.

Toyota has made $961 million in total investments. It has donated $3 million to area nonprofit organizations and pledged a $50 million endowment to support public education. Toyota employees also have donated more than 25,000 volunteer hours to area nonprofits.

There is no doubt that expanding Toyota’s commitment to the region would increase these benefits exponentially and be a monumental boost to the local economy.

With so many people already employed by Toyota and its suppliers, and with Mississippi unemployment near record lows, it is legitimate to ask whether the region and state have sufficient workforce to support a new 4,000-person automotive plant.

While not something our community can’t overcome, this may be the biggest challenge local developers face as they work to sell our region’s viability to the automakers.

Solutions will no doubt include attracting people from outside the state and relying on a robust training infrastructure at local community colleges and colleges - approaches that also were used in preparing for Toyota’s initial foray into Blue Springs.

So as local leaders begin that pursuit anew, at least they will have a playbook to follow. That paired with our area’s strong history of cooperation puts Northeast Mississippi in as good of position as any other to compete for this project.

Online: https://www.djournal.com/

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Aug. 11

The Commercial Dispatch highlights the level of attention the upcoming solar eclipse has received:

We’ve never seen anything quite like it.

No, we are not referring to the solar eclipse that will travel a course across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina on Aug. 21. Scientists tell us total solar eclipses occur every 18 months.

Yet while the solar eclipse itself may not be rare, the interest it has already created is unprecedented, thanks to the internet and social media.

Still 10 days away from the event, what is being referred to as “The Great American Eclipse” has generated 275 million Google searches and made the eclipse a major tourism event.

An estimated 7.4 million people will travel to areas along the path of the eclipse will be in “totality,” joining the estimated 12.25 million people who live along its roughly 2,600-mile length and 70-mile wide path. Hotels are filling up from coast to coast.

Thanks to social media, it will be the most viewed eclipse in history and the first to travel from coast-to-coast in the United States in 99 years.

Here in the Golden Triangle, we’ll see about 90 percent of the eclipse. At the time of full eclipse, (about 1:30 p.m.) the sun will look like an orange sliver of a crescent against a dark blue sky.

Since the advent of man, people have looked at the sky - the sun, the moon, the stars - with curiosity and wonder. The earliest recorded solar eclipse, discovered in 1948 in Syria on a clay tablet, dates to March 5, 1223 B.C. Down through the centuries, eclipses have inspired poets and writers, scientists and every-day people. For centuries little was known about eclipses apart from what could be observed by the naked eye.

While much of the mystery has been revealed to us, astronomers and scientists are still learning from these events.

We are especially excited that the arrival of the eclipse appears to have fired the imagination of our schoolchildren.

Many a scientist can trace their love of science not from the classroom, but from a childhood observation of the wonders of the natural world. This eclipse may inspire a new generation of scientists, as well.

For the rest of us, it will be a reminder of the vastness of the universe and our relatively infinitesimal place in it. Some may find it something of a spiritual event. Others may be moved to philosophical contemplation: What is man and what is mankind’s significance in a universe of such immeasurable dimensions?

Of course a lot of us may simply consider it a captivating display of nature’s wonder.

However we consider it, this will be one of those mystical moments when the natural world commands our attention.

The eclipse will fly across the continent at 1,500 mph, making the journey from Oregon to South Carolina in just 94 minutes.

It will be an awe-inspiring and beautiful thing to behold.

Yeah, that’s a pretty big deal.

Online: https://www.cdispatch.com/


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