Couple plans dolphin-assisted birth — really

dolphinAccording to Outside Magazine’s Scott Rosenfield, a North Carolina couple has traveled to Hawaii to complete a dolphin assisted-birth of their baby, Bodhi, due in July. Despite the lack of science supporting the unusual birthing method, Adam and Heather Barrington hope that a series of prenatal and postnatal swims with dolphins will relax the birthing process.

“Having that connection with the pod of dolphins anytime – even if the birth doesn’t happen in the water – still brings peace, comfort and strength to the mother and baby during labor,” Heather told the Charlotte Observer.

The Barringtons are working with the Sirius Institute, a center “dedicated to the creation of human/dolphin co-creative habitats where dolphins and people can learn from each other through music, underwater birth, dolphin sound healing and restoration.”

Experts have cautioned that dolphins can become aggressive and are unpredictible animals.”This has to be, hands down, one of the worst natural birthing ideas anyone has ever had,” wrote a blogger for Discover. The author cites research that dolphins will “toss, beat, and kill small porpoises or baby sharks for no apparent reason other than they enjoy it, though some have suggested the poor porpoises serve as practice for killing the infants of rival males.”

Ole Miss’s Morgan, Quinn receive accolades for tracking Hurricane Isaac

Margaret Ann Morgan

Margaret Ann Morgan

» Student Journalists Win Award for Hurricane Coverage


From The University of Mississippi

OXFORD, Mississippi – A trip to the Gulf Coast to cover Hurricane Isaac has paid off for two University of Mississippi student journalists who won a national award from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Margaret Ann Morgan and Stephen Quinn, journalism majors who were actively involved in the S. Gale Denley Student Media Center for several years, won first place for TV Breaking News for “Live from Biloxi: Tracking Isaac.”

When she saw the path of the hurricane was headed to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Morgan immediately decided she wanted to go cover the storm.

“I called my aunt and uncle who live in Biloxi and told them to get ready, because I was coming with a carload of journalists who wanted to ride this thing out at their house,” Morgan said.

Nancy Dupont, associate professor of journalism, spearheaded the idea, and Mikki Harris, assistant professor of journalism, and Alysia Steele, journalism professional-in-residence, accompanied the two students and directed their coverage on the Coast. The students, Harris and Steele left at 2 a.m. in a car packed with gas cans, food and camera equipment.

Morgan recalls it as an exhilarating experience.

“Everything just happened so quickly,” said Morgan, who graduated from Ole Miss May 11 with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism. “We didn’t sleep for a good 48 hours because of leaving late from Oxford, and once we got down to the Coast, we just hit the ground running. Everyone down there was great, though. The law enforcement, city officials, everyone was very willing to help us with our stories and guide us around.”

Morgan credits her time at the Student Media Center with enhancing her time at Ole Miss.

“If I had never stepped foot in the media center, my Ole Miss experience would not be at all the same as it has been,” the McComb native said. “I’ve covered hurricanes, traveled to Belize, met presidential candidates and had a lot of fun along the way. Journalism students are so lucky to have a place like the Student Media Center. It gives us real-world experience that could not be gained any other way. I am confident with entering the world of journalism because of what all I have learned at the media center.”

For Quinn, a native of Ashburn, Va., it was his first time on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, let alone during a hurricane.

“The calm demeanor of the people there assuaged any nerves I had about what was coming ashore,” said Quinn, who also graduated May 11 with a broadcast journalism degree. “It was amazing to hear the stories from the people who had weathered storms like Katrina and Camille. I am always humbled when people share their life stories with me.”

Although he has dreamed of being on TV for some time, Quinn said his love and understanding of how to report the news came at the Student Media Center.

“While I cannot be a part of it now, I still hold a special place in my heart for the people I met there and the lessons they taught me,” Quinn said. “If it wasn’t for the SMC, I wouldn’t have come to Ole Miss. In that sense, it hasn’t enhanced but provided for every moment I’ve had at Ole Miss.”

“This has been an extraordinary year for awards for student media,” said Patricia Thompson, director of student media and assistant professor of journalism. “Margaret Ann and Stephen have been fixtures at the SMC for years, and it’s wonderful to see their hard work and commitment rewarded with this national recognition. Kudos also go to journalism faculty Mikki Harris and Alysia Steele, who traveled with the students to help coordinate their breaking news coverage for and NewsWatch.”

Additionally, earlier this year, Morgan won Best Multimedia Journalist in the Best of the South contest, and several other awards for her work as part of student journalists’ projects in a depth reporting class and a multimedia course in Belize. Quinn also has won several other awards this year, including one from the Mississippi Associated Press Broadcasters Association.

The SPJ Mark of Excellence Awards will be handed out during the national convention in August in Anaheim, Calif.

ROSS REILY: Hello, Mr. President, can you hear me now?

Ross Reily

Ross Reily

My kids, all three of them, are really big fans of President Obama.

It has nothing to do with their political affiliation, mind you, considering they are all 8 and under.

My 7- and 8-year-olds got to meet him and shake his hand when he was running for president back in ’08, and, from then on, he could do no wrong.

I get it.

When I was a kid, former Mississippi Gov. Bill Waller was really nice to me and even let me get into the helicopter he had been riding in. He would’ve taken me for a ride had my mother not stepped in.

As far as I was concerned, Gov. Waller was the coolest guy on the planet, regardless of his politics.

Having said all of that, President Obama hasn’t had a very good few weeks.

I’m sure you’ve seen or heard about the laundry list of issues.

There’s last year’s attack on a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, in which nearly half of Americans, according to a recent poll, say President Obama’s administration is trying to cover up the facts of the attack.

Then there’s the IRS scandal in which the agency has admitted it targeted conservative and tea-party groups during last year’s election because of their politics. It turns out the IRS targeted 40 groups, of which 17 were considered conservative.

And finally, The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.

Well, that obviously gets into my way of doing business.

In one editorial I read, it rightfully stated, “Democrats and Republicans, small-government proponents and civil liberties groups — rarely on the same page on most issues — are rightfully up in arms. Secretly obtaining reporters’ notes and launching a phishing expedition against the lone entity responsible for keeping governments in check flies in direct conflict with this country’s founding.”


This will break my kids’ hearts

OK, so how am I supposed to break this to my kids?

President Obama hung the moon. Michelle Obama, in their eyes, is part of the family and Sasha and Malia might as well be their sisters, too.

They have an idealistic view of their country, their government and their president, which isn’t a bad thing.

You don’t want to shatter their world.

But a decisive move has to be made, and I have taken action.

Once an hour, every hour — as dependable as Old Faithful — I have picked the phone in my office and started talking.

“Mr. President, Mr. President, this is Ross at the Mississippi Business Journal down in Jackson. My kids really love you, and one of them has a birthday coming up. Any chance you and your family could come down and visit for the afternoon?

“They would really love it, and there will be cake and ice cream if Michelle doesn’t mind.”

I sure hope he is listening.

» Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at or (601) 364-1018

Stacey Pickering: Nissan has lived up to its promises

nissan-logoStatement from Stacey E. Pickering, State Auditor

A Washington, D.C. based organization called Good Jobs First recently released a false and misleading report funded by the United Auto Workers concerning the Nissan plant in Canton. Unfortunately, the report was short on facts and long on estimates.

As the UAW has continuously been unsuccessful over the past decade in unionizing workers at the Nissan plant, they have chosen guerilla tactics such as this to paint the company in a negative light.

» READ MORE from Clay Chandler at Magnolia Marketplace …

» READ MORE: Study says Nissan subsidies total $1.133 billion, MDA says overestimated

» READ MORE: Nissan statement on UAW subsidies study

The Office of the State Auditor has been auditing Nissan employment numbers for ten years following the GAO’s Yellowbook Performance Audit Standards. We have found that they have consistently exceeded requirements mandated by law. In these audits, as in audits of all of the major projects assigned to the Auditor’s Office, if a company is not meeting or exceeding the requirements of their agreement with the state, then OSA will issue a demand and the companies are required to repay money to the state.

According to the law and the Memorandum of Understandings between Nissan and the state of Mississippi, Nissan was required to maintain 3,000 new direct jobs at the project site until 2021. As of our last audit in December, 2011, Nissan employed over 4,100 employees, far exceeding the mandated requirements.

The original Nissan project was broken into two phases. The first phase specified Nissan create 4,000 new direct jobs by December 31, 2003 to receive state incentives. In a report published by my office, which is available on our website, we verified Nissan created 4,454 new direct jobs as of December 31, 2003, again exceeding the mandate of the law and their contract with the state.

The second phase required Nissan to create an additional 1,300 new direct full-time jobs by December 31, 2004 to receive incentives from the state. In the second report, also available on our website, OSA verified Nissan employed/ created 5,727 new direct jobs as of December 31, 2004.

We continue to audit and monitor the Nissan project and they continue to meet and exceed requirements and expectations.

The numbers do not lie. Beyond the jobs Nissan created, there is more disposable income that generates sales tax, property tax from homeowners, and many other ancillary benefits that would not have otherwise existed. They have produced more than 2 million vehicles and nearly $2 billion in payroll.

Nissan is heavily involved in both the local community and the State. Since 2003, Nissan has contributed more than $5 million to a wide range of community-based organizations, while also sponsoring scholarship programs for Mississippi children to attend local colleges and universities.

In 2012, Nissan paid more than $3.6 million to Madison County, and of that, more than $2 million went to Canton Public Schools. Nissan has been a great deal for Mississippi, has lived up to all of the promises they agreed to, and helped our state land future economic development projects including Toyota and, most recently, Yokohama Tire.

For those employed by Nissan, they enjoy a secure job with very good pay and benefits, and employees do not have to pay union dues for the opportunity to work at Nissan. Salaries of the employees meet or exceed the requirements set forth in state agreements as well. But because Nissan employees have chosen to remain union-free, the UAW has decided to smear Nissan as part of their campaign.

For the UAW, succeeding in a place like Canton is necessary for their survival. Over the past four decades, UAW membership has plummeted from 1.5 million to less than 400,000 today. Revenues from union dues, which fund the union, are down over 40 percent in the past decade.

They have twice failed to unionize at the Nissan plant in Smyrna, Tennessee- with around 70 percent of workers voting against the union in two separate votes held at the plant. They have been equally unsuccessful in other auto plants in the South. During this time, hundreds of thousands of jobs have fled the union stronghold of Detroit as Right-to-Work states were opening new plants and creating jobs, all while the taxpayers were forced to bailout General Motors and Chrysler.

Whether the UAW chooses to hold a rally with out-of-state protestors and a Hollywood celebrity, or releases another false and misleading report, the facts show that Nissan has met all of the requirements mandated by the state and they have proven to be a very good deal for Mississippi. I am happy that they chose Mississippi, and we are better off as a state because of it.

The taxpayers of Mississippi can be rest assured that the Office of the State Auditor will continue to monitor Nissan and other economic development projects in the future. All of our fact based reports can be found at