Important state and national stories, market and business news, sports and entertainment, delivered in quick-hit fashion to start your day informed.
1. Laurin St. Pe’ named CEO of Singing River Health System
The Board of Trustees of Singing River Health System announced the immediate appointment of Laurin St. Pe’ as the Chief Executive Officer on Thursday.
“We are thrilled to announce Laurin St. Pe as the new CEO of Singing River,” said Steve Ates, Board President in a statement. “His wealth of healthcare experience and proven track record make him the ideal leader to steer our health system toward its next phase of growth and success.”
St. Pe’, who has been serving as Interim CEO since July 2023, said he is honored to assume the role of CEO at Singing River. He has worked at Singing River as Administrator of Singing River Health System’s Pascagoula Hospital and Gulfport Hospital, in addition to overseeing program service lines throughout the entire system to his subsequent appointment as Chief Operating Officer of Singing River.
The health system says St. Pe played a crucial role in the financial revitalization of Singing River Health System while steering the organization toward financial stability.
2. Gulfport-Biloxi airport, Stennis evacuated after threats
The Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport was evacuated on Thursday morning “out of an abundance of caution,” airport officials said, after receiving an emailed threat to certain transportation entities across the state.
The airport was thoroughly security swept, cleared and reopened in just over two hours. Gulfport-Biloxi is now operating regularly.
The threat was also sent to Stennis International Airport. Their staff and personnel were also evacuated until the facilities could be swept and cleared.
Any passenger whose travel was affected by the evacuation is encouraged to contact their respective air carrier.
3. Cassidy arrested in Iowa for beheading Satanic Temple statue
Former Mississippi congressional and legislative candidate Michael Cassidy was arrested this week in Iowa for beheading a statue at the state’s Capitol erected by The Satanic Temple.
Cassidy reportedly decapitated the statue and turned himself to police on Thursday. He was charged with fourth degree criminal mischief. He then started an online legal defense fund where he’s raised upwards of $20,000 as of Thursday night, according to his X account.
4. “Serial fraudster” ordered to cease offering investments into companies
According to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office, on October 26, 2023, Secretary Michael Watson and the Securities Division issued an order against Stephone N. Patton. The SOS says Patton is a serial fraudster with multiple criminal convictions in Mississippi and Florida.
Through business filings with the SEC and Mississippi, Patton has held himself to be the CEO of various companies, including Star Oil and Gas Company, Inc., North Gulf Energy Corporation, Inc., Patton Oilfield Services, Inc., and Patton Farms, LLC.
The SOS says using these business filings and company websites, Patton claimed to have raised hundreds of billions of dollars through investment opportunities. Through investigative efforts and collaboration with the SEC, the SOS discovered none of Patton’s companies are operational, have any assets, or generate any revenues. Account records show Patton spent investors’ funds almost as soon as he received them on personal expenses. The total amount of known investments made to Patton’s fraudulent companies is over $80,000. Further, none of Patton’s investment offerings have been registered or notice filed with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office.
The SOS order requires Patton to cease and desist from offering investments with his companies, requiring Patton to permanently deactivate his companies’ websites to prevent any further dissemination of his false or misleading information. Patton is also ordered to pay an administrative penalty of $25,000 to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office for these violations, in addition to restitution owed to all his Mississippi investors.
National News & Foreign Policy
1. Congressional retirements mounting as 2024 election cycle nears
Retirement and departure announcements are piling up ahead of the start to the 2024 election cycle. The New York Times has developed a Retirement Tracker that currently shows 22 Democrats and 11 Republicans who are in Congress now will not be seeking re-election next year.
“Dozens of members of Congress have announced plans to leave their seats in the House of Representatives, setting a rapid pace for congressional departures, with more expected as the 2024 election draws closer,” the NY Times reports. “Given Republicans’ razor-thin House majority, the wave of exits has the potential to lead to a significant shake-up next year.”
You can find the tracker here.
2. Texas, Daily Wire, The Federalist sue U.S. State Department over media censorship
The U.S. State Department’s Global Engagement Center has come under fire as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton along with The Daily Wire and The Federalist have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the department funded technology that could “render disfavored press outlets unprofitable.” They claim that the department has helped social media – Facebook, YouTube and X (formerly Twitter) – to censor free speech while funding technologies used to censor right-leaning news outlets such as theirs.
New Civil Liberties Alliance is representing The Daily Wire and The Federalist. Paxton and the outlets claim the Global Disinformation Index (GDI), a British think tank, received a $100,000 grant from the State Department in 2021, and NewsGuard, which rates the “misinformation” levels of news outlets, received $25,000 from the State Department in 2020, according to the lawsuit.
According to the State Department’s website, the Global Engagement Center’s mission is to direct, lead, synchronize, integrate, and coordinate U.S. Federal Government efforts to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining or influencing the policies, security, or stability of the United States, its allies, and partner nations.
As reported by Reuters, the lawsuit cited a GDI-produced list from December 2022 that ranked The Daily Wire and The Federalist as among the 10 “riskiest sites” for news while the least-risky included The New York Times, Associated Press and NPR. Reuters notes that the lawsuit alleges such “blacklists” are reducing revenues to The Daily Wire and The Federalist along with their visibility on social media and ranking results from browser searches.
Sports & Entertainment
1. SEC releases 2024 schedules
Wednesday evening, the Southeastern Conference released the 2024 football schedules for its member schools, including of interest in the Magnolia State the schedules for Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
It is the first schedule that includes new conference members University of Oklahoma and University of Texas, bringing the conference to 16 schools. Each SEC team will play eight conference football games plus at least one required opponent from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12 or major independent, each team will have two open dates.
The 2024 season will be the first year the SEC will play a schedule without divisional competition since 1991. The top two teams in the league standings based on winning percentage will play in the 33rd SEC Football Championship Game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, December 7.
2. White, Jesiolowski, Jones honored by MAIS
The Midsouth Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) in Mississippi, comprised of non-public schools, announced this week that Madison-Ridgeland Academy’s senior quarterback John White was named the 6A Player of the Year while Hartfield’s Reed Jesiolowski and Hartfield Chris Jones were named the MAIS 6A Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectively.
All three have committed to play college football at the University of Mississippi.
White is Mississippi’s all-time leader in career passing yards with 15,259 yards, a record he broke during the 2023 season.
MAIS, like the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) for public schools, is broken down into classifications, from 1A to 6A. However, MHSAA added a 7A this season.
Markets & Business
1. Consumer retail sales up as energy, gas prices move down
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this week that the Consumer Price Index rose 0.1% in November after being unchanged in October. Retail sales rose 0.3% in November after rising 0.2% in October, meaning consumers continue to spend at the start of the holiday season.
The CPI or inflation rate is 3.1%, higher than the Federal Reserve target of 2% but below the 9% peak in 2022 which reached a 40-year high.
As for the energy index, BLS reported that it fell 2.3% in November after decreasing 2.5% in October. The gasoline index decreased 6% in November, following a 5% decrease in the previous month.
The index for fuel oil fell in November, decreasing 2.7%. However, the natural gas index rose 2.8% over the month after rising 1.2% the previous month. The index for electricity also rose 1.4% in November, after increasing 0.3% in October.
The energy index fell 5.4% over the past 12 months. The gasoline index decreased 8.9%, the natural gas index declined 10.4%, and the fuel oil index fell 24.8% over this 12-month span.
2. Week’s market rally continues into Friday
At close of trading on Thursday, the U.S. markets continued the week’s rally, pushing the Dow up 158 points to 37,248 while the Nasdaq and S&P also made gains, 27 points and 12 points, respectively, to close at 14,761 and 4,719.
The record high for the Dow on Thursday moved futures up 102 points.
According to CNBC, the major averages are headed for their seventh straight positive week. As of Thursday, the Dow is higher on the week by 2.8%. The S&P 500 is up by 2.5%, while the Nasdaq Composite rose 2.5% this week.
Stocks rallied after the Federal Reserve left rates unchanged this week while members look towards cuts in the new year and beyond.