Important state and national stories, market and business news, sports and entertainment, delivered in quick-hit fashion to start your day informed.
1. Former Gautier police office sentenced for embezzlement
Former Gautier Police Officer Eric Maye has pled guilty to Embezzlement, according to the State Auditor’s office. Maye was arrested by agents in January 2023 and served with a $1,433.43 demand letter.
Maye is guilty of using the city’s FuelMan gas card to purchase fuel for his personal vehicle.
Maye was sentenced by the Jackson County Circuit Court to 5 years of house arrest and 5 years of post-release supervision and ordered to pay restitution and fines. Maye’s sentence will run concurrently with a conviction from a case investigated by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations. Both cases were prosecuted by District Attorney Angel McIlrath’s office.
2. Three Mississippi teachers receive Milken Award
The Mississippi Department of Education has announced that three Mississippi teachers recently received a national Milken Educator Award that includes an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize.
Jennifer Hite, a fifth-grade science teacher at Pearl Upper Elementary, and Kristien “Krissy” Long, a fifth-grade math and science teacher at Neshoba Central Elementary, and Anna Katherine Davis, a math teacher at Houston High School, received the honor.
MDE said the Milken Educator Award is a national honor recognizing exceptional educators for excellence and innovation in education.
Interim State Superintendent of Education Dr. Raymond Morgigno and Milken Educator Awards Vice President Stephanie Bishop presented the surprise awards to each teacher during school assemblies students and staff thought were being held to celebrate local school achievement.
3. WLOX Chief Meteorologist retiring from TV
WLOX Chief Meteorologist Carrie Duncan told viewers Thursday that she was retiring from TV.
With a young family, Duncan said she was looking forward to having a normal day job that allows her more time with your young sons.
Duncan said she was joining Ingalls Shipbuilding as the community relations and engagement specialist.
National News & Foreign Policy
1. U.S., Britain target Iranian-backed forces in Yemen
The U.S. in coordination with Great Britain launched airstrikes in Yemen this week, targeting military locations of the Iran-backed Houthis. Houthis have been attacking ships traveling in the Red Sea.
Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters on Thursday that the air strikes came after Iranian forces seized an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman that was traveling to Turkey, according to a FoxNews report.
FoxNews further reported:
The U.S. military said the Houthis earlier on Thursday had staged their 27th attack on shipping since Nov. 19, firing an anti-ship ballistic missile into international shipping lanes in the Gulf of Aden.
Earlier this week, U.S. and British naval forces shot down drones and missiles fired by the Houthis toward the southern Red Sea after the Royal Navy warship HMS Diamond was attacked.
The Houthis, who seized much of Yemen in a civil war, have vowed to attack ships linked to Israel or bound for Israeli ports. However, many of the targeted ships have had no links to Israel.
2. Oil prices jump after Yemen strike
The Wall Street Journal reports that brent crude futures surged beyond $80 a barrel for the first time this year, after U.S.-led strikes against Houthi in Yemen stoked concerns about an escalation of conflict in the Middle East.
According to WSJ:
Most actively traded Brent crude oil futures gained roughly 4% in late-morning trading in London.
Futures on West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, also jumped about 4%.
Energy companies’ shares followed suit, with Shell and BP each rising more than 1% in London.
Exxon Mobil and Occidental Petroleum also gained in premarket trading.
Sports & Entertainment
Belichick, Patriots part ways
After 24 seasons as the head coach of the New England Patriots, Belichick and team owner Robert Craft announced that the six-time Super Bowl champion coach was moving on.
“For me, this is a day of gratitude and celebration,” Belichick said during the press conference with Craft, adding, “”I will always be a Patriot. I look forward to coming back here. But, at this time, we’re going to move on. I look forward, am excited for the future.”
Belichick needs 15 wins to be the all-time winningest coach in pro-football history.
The future NFL Hall of Famer, 71, is a target for a number of teams looking for a new skipper this off season, including the Washington Commanders, Tennessee Titans, and the Carolina Panthers, among others.
Markets & Business
1. Inflation up in December
The Consumer Price Index released on Thursday showed that the inflation rate rose 0.3% in December, from 3.1% in November to 3.4%.
The Federal Reserve’s target rate is 2%.
As NBC News reports, consumers still face everyday prices that are above pre-pandemic levels.
“White bread, which cost about $1.30 per pound in the winter of 2019-20, now costs about $2 per pound, according to BLS data. Ground beef has increased from about $3.87 a pound to $5.35 a pound over the same period. And a gallon of milk has climbed from roughly $3.20 to about $4,” NBC News notes. “So even as price growth continues to moderate, consumers are still adapting to a new normal.”
2. Google lays off hundreds
Business Insider is reporting that Google laid off hundreds of workers on Wednesday night.
“The search giant eliminated roles in its central engineering division and on teams working on its Pixel phone, Fitbit devices, Nest smart home product, and Google Assistant, The New York Times reported,” per Business Insider. “The layoffs were first reported by 9to5Google and Semafor.”
A Google spokesperson confirmed the cuts to Business Insider in an email, which they reported:
We’re responsibly investing in our company’s biggest priorities and the significant opportunities ahead. To best position us for these opportunities, throughout the second half of 2023, a number of our teams made changes to become more efficient and work better, and to align their resources to their biggest product priorities. Some teams are continuing to make these kinds of organizational changes, which include some role eliminations globally. We’re continuing to support any impacted employees as they look for new roles here at Google and beyond.