Tag Archives: Jackson

Check the family recipe books | California woman offers house for best dessert

A woman in Antioch, California, is offering a sweet deal on her 1906 Craftsman home in Jackson. She’s trading it for a great dessert.

The Contra Costa Times reports that Erin Allard is hosting a dessert contest with 2,267-foot century-old home as the grand prize.

The four-bedroom, two-bathroom home has been newly restored and is valued at $390,000.

Allard, who is a licensed real estate agent, has spent weeks checking details and legalities to make sure the competition goes off without a problem.

The contest will be judged by a panel of food experts.

Those looking to apply have until Sept. 7 to submit a $100 entry fee and a million-dollar recipe.

On the Web

The contest site on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HomeRecipeContest 

U.S. appeals court blocks Mississippi’s abortion law

Mississippi’s governor and attorney general will have to decide whether to challenge a federal appeals court ruling that is keeping the state’s only abortion clinic in business.

A panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 on July 29 to block a 2012 Mississippi law that requires abortion doctors to obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

When Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed the law, he said he hoped it would end abortion in the state. In defending the law, state attorneys said women with unwanted pregnancies could always travel to other states. But the appellate judges ruled that every state must guarantee constitutional rights, including abortion.

Bryant, in a statement, said the court’s ruling disappointed him.

Ten states, including Wisconsin, have adopted similar laws, forcing a growing number of clinics to close. Many hospitals ignore or reject abortion doctors’ applications, and they won’t grant privileges to out-of-state physicians. The traveling doctors who staff Mississippi’s last open clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, encountered both obstacles.

The ruling from the conservative 5th Circuit was narrowly crafted to address the situation in Mississippi, but it could have implications for the other states with similar laws and dwindling access to abortion, such as Wisconsin and Alabama, whose officials have said women could cross state lines if clinics close, said the center’s litigation director, Julie Rikelman.

Attorneys for Mississippi argued that if the state’s last clinic closed, women could still get abortions in other states. But the judges said the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision established a constitutional right to abortion for all citizens — and that Mississippi may not shift its obligations to other states.

“Pre-viability, a woman has the constitutional right to end her pregnancy by abortion,” wrote judges E. Grady Jolly of Mississippi and Stephen A. Higginson of Louisiana. The law signed by Bryant “effectively extinguishes that right within Mississippi’s borders,” they said.

Supporters of admitting-privileges laws say they protect women’s health by ensuring that a physician who performs an abortion in a clinic would also be able to treat the patient in a hospital in case of complications.

Opponents say the requirement is unnecessary, since complications are extremely rare and patients in distress are automatically treated in emergency rooms. Critics also contend that the law gives religious-affiliated hospitals veto power over who can work in an abortion clinic and, by extension, whether a clinic can stay open.

“Today’s ruling ensures women who have decided to end a pregnancy will continue, for now, to have access to safe, legal care in their home state,” said Center for Reproductive Rights president Nancy Northup.

A different panel of the 5th Circuit, which handles cases from Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, upheld a 2013 Texas law requiring physicians to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. In that March ruling, the judges said traveling fewer than 150 miles to obtain an abortion is “not an undue burden.”

Even now, women from Iuka, Mississippi, in the state’s northeast corner, need to drive 280 miles to reach Jackson.

The clinic remains open, using out-of-state physicians who travel to Mississippi to do abortions several times a month. For years, the clinic has had an agreement with a local physician who will meet a patient at a Jackson hospital in case of complications. Clinic owner Diane Derzis has said such complications are rare.

FBI investigating after noose found around University of Miss. statue

The FBI is helping investigate the tying of a noose around the neck of a University of Mississippi statue of James Meredith. In 1962, Meredith became the first black student to enroll in the then all-white southern college.

University police found the noose and a pre-2003 Georgia state flag with the Confederate “stars and bars” on Feb. 16, according to campus police Chief Calvin Sellers.

Two men were seen near the statue early Sunday and investigators were looking at surveillance footage.

“It’s a racial hate crime,” Mississippi NAACP president Derrick Johnson said after a news conference at the state Capitol. “At what level do they get prosecuted? I don’t know. But as long as we tolerate hate, we will continue to revisit history and the past of this state, and at some point we must move forward.”

University chancellor Dan Jones condemned the action, saying it was contrary to the beliefs and values of the school community.

Meanwhile, university police asked for help from the FBI, according to Deborah R. Madden, a spokeswoman for the FBI office in Jackson, Miss.

The Ole Miss Alumni Association is offering at $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

When Meredith tried to enter Ole Miss in fall 1962, Mississippi’s governor tried to stop him, which was followed by rioting on the Oxford campus.

U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy then sent 500 U.S. Marshals to take control and a couple weeks later, Meredith was allowed into the school and he eventually graduated with with a degree in political science.

Assistant to the Chancellor for Multicultural Affairs Don Cole reiterated the creed that the university stands by.

“This is particularly painful because the James Meredith statue has become a gathering place for students to discuss many things, including the tenets of our creed, which calls for dignity and respect for all people,” he said.

Mississippi school principal sued for come to Jesus programs

A Mississippi high school forced students to attend on-campus programs where fellow students urged them to turn to Jesus for hope and eternal life, according to an atheist group that has sued.

The district has denied that assemblies were mandatory and says they were legal.

A lawsuit filed by the American Humanist Association asks a federal judge to bar the Rankin County School District from having religious assemblies. The suit also seeks to hold Northwest Rankin High School principal Charles Frazier personally liable. Humanist Association attorney Bill Burgess said Frazier should have known better than to allow the gathering.

The district has yet to respond to the lawsuit filed recently in U.S. District Court in Jackson.

It’s the latest in a series of school prayer struggles in Mississippi. But while many of the cases have occurred in small towns, this one centers on a 1,600-student school in fast-growing suburban area that includes visible religious minorities including a Hindu temple. The Humanist Association, based in Washington, D.C., says some students there have no religious faith.

The suit was brought on behalf of a 16-year-old Northwest Rankin junior named only as M.B. in the complaint.

Rankin County assistant superintendent Richard Morrison, appointed by Republican Gov. Phil Bryant to the state Board of Education last year, told The Associated Press last month that the assembly at Northwest Rankin High School wasn’t explicitly religious.

“It was not based on any church or any religion,” said Morrison, who was principal at Northwest Rankin before being promoted to assistant superintendent.

But a cellphone video taken by a student and provided to AP by the atheist group shows otherwise. A group of students, described by Morrison as senior boys, discuss their history of personal problems. About seven minutes into the program, when talking about how they turned their lives around, one says “We find our hope in Jesus Christ.”

One of program leaders also tells students: “We know it is not cool for us to stand up here and tell you that we follow Jesus. But that’s OK. Because we care about you so much that there is no way that we could graduate from high school and have a hope that we believe is for eternity and not share it with you guys.”

The lawsuit describes the students as representatives of Pinelake Church, the largest Southern Baptist church in Mississippi. The church’s main campus is near the school.

The church’s communications director, Kim Shirley, said last month no Pinelake representatives took part. “It wasn’t something we put on,” she said. Shirley declined to say if the students attend the 9,000-member church.

“Everyone seemed to know they at least attend the church,” Burgess said, but indicated there was no evidence of official church involvement.

In this case, Morrison said students approached Frazier about holding the assemblies. He indicated they were legal in part because they were student-led.

“They’re some courageous guys that want to make a difference in kids’ lives,” Morrison said. “We respect our state and federal guidelines. We know that our limits are. But we also know that students are leaders in our school.”

Morrison said attendance was not mandatory, and students could have stayed in classrooms if they wanted.

The lawsuit claims otherwise, citing an email Frazier sent to teachers before the senior class assembly on April 9. It also says students were prevented by a school security officer from leaving.

Burgess said that after the humanist group sent the district a letter complaining about the assemblies, officials may have allowed sophomores and freshmen to skip programs held later in April. But he said even a voluntary assembly was still an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion, because it took place on school property during school hours.

Morrison said he understood Frazier had prescreened the program, which could undercut claims that administrators didn’t endorse its religious content.

“He’s chose this program,” Burgess said of Frazier’s actions. “That’s fair to say.”

The suit names Frazier personally and seeks punitive damages from him.

Lesbian couple demands Mississippi museum allow ceremony

A lesbian who sued her school district in 2010 after she was left out of the high school yearbook for wearing a tuxedo is demanding the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum permit a commitment ceremony for her and her partner.

The Southern Poverty Law Center sent a letter to the museum threatening to file suit if the museum doesn’t permit Ceara Sturgis and partner Emily to hold the ceremony there. The deadline for the museum’s response is July 25.

“Our clients simply want to have the opportunity to express their love for one another in front of their family and friends,” said Elissa Johnson, a staff attorney for the SPLC. “It is unfair and illegal for the state to refuse to rent its facilities to couples based solely on their sexual orientation.”

The state-owned museum in Jackson, Miss., refused to permit a similar ceremony for two men earlier this year.

The museum has said it interprets commitment ceremonies to represent a union, and cites a 2009 opinion by Attorney General Jim Hood that said it could decline such ceremonies because same-sex marriage is banned in Mississippi.

The SPLC, in the letter, argues that the museum policy violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution because, under the 14th Amendment, a state may not single out a class of citizens for different treatment, absent a valid state interest. A commitment ceremony or same-sex wedding ceremony does not require that the state recognize or endorse the committed same-sex couple as a married couple.

Sturgis, who lives in Jackson, said, “We love each other and want to spend the rest of our lives together. Like any other couple, we want to be able to share this special day with our family and friends.”

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Jackson, Miss., denies permit for gay rights march

  Gay Mississippians tried to rally in Jackson early March 1 to draw attention to equal rights legislation, but were turned away by the police. Despite having applied for a permit for a march in the city to highlight LGBT discrimination, organizers were informed shortly before the event that their permit had been denied and they had no right to rally in the city.

The primary organizer of the march, Bob Gilchrist, had organized the event on Facebook, and was expecting a large crowd. The permit was denied even though event organizers were finalizing details to secure required liability insurance.

When informed by police that the permit had been denied, those assembled for the march changed plans under the threat of arrest if they were to proceed.

“Mississippi is notorious for basic human rights violations,” Gilchrist said. “It’s a shame that, in 2012, the state is still maintaining that reputation.”

Zach Magee, a Mississippi native who helped with the organizing, said, “I can’t believe the state is still maintaining a campaign of fear and intimidation to oppress state residents. Mississippians organized this march and Mississippians were going to attend this march – if the police can’t maintain safety while also permitting gay Mississippians’ freedom of speech, then I don’t know why they’re in the business of law enforcement.”

“As a Mississippian forced to flee my home state to seek equality elsewhere, this decision by the Jackson police is reprehensible,” said Robin McGehee, GetEQUAL’s executive director and a Jackson native. “Despite Mississippi’s long history of racial, gender and economic discrimination, the state continues to use deceptive tactics like insurance requirements to prevent people from simply walking down the street as openly gay. You would think that Mississippi would have learned its lesson and would try to shake off the chains of its discriminatory past, but this action by Jackson police will simply cement the state’s reputation as the leader of bigotry and discrimination.”

Event organizers partnered with an existing rally at the Capitol on March 1. Six people did march to the Capitol, including a representative with the ACLU, who said the “streets of Jackson belong to the residents of Jackson,” according to a report on The Clarion-Ledger website.

A spokesman for the police said the department tried to work with the protesters.