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PRISON UNREST-MISSISSIPPI

Mississippi, lacking guards, sends inmates to private prison

Mississippi's prison system is transferring 375 inmates to a private prison after recent eruptions of violence. The state corrections commissioner says the prison system doesn't have enough guards to safely keep the inmate in state custody. The state signed a contract Wednesday with private prison operator CoreCivic of Nashville, Tennessee. The inmates are being shifted for at least 90 days from the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, where three people died and others were injured in violence last week. They're going to a CoreCivic prison in nearby Tutwiler. The state may be paying more than the daily amount allowed per prisoner under state law.

MISSISSIPPI INAUGURATION

7 of 8 Mississippi statewide officials are inaugurated

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi's new lieutenant governor says he wants to work with all legislators on education and other big issues facing the state. Republican Delbert Hosemann was one of the seven statewide elected officials inaugurated Thursday. All are Republican. Lynn Fitch becomes the first woman to serve as Mississippi attorney general. Michael Watson is the new secretary of state. David McRae is the new treasurer. Auditor Shad White and Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson were appointed last term, and each begins a full four years in office. Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney starts his fourth term. Republican Tate Reeves will be inaugurated as governor on Tuesday.

ELECTION 2020-MISSISSIPPI HOUSE

Biloxi councilman challenging US Rep. Palazzo in GOP primary

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A GOP city official says he will try to unseat one of Mississippi's Republican congressmen. Biloxi City Councilman Robert Deming filed papers Thursday to challenge Rep. Steven Palazzo in south Mississippi's 4th Congressional District. Palazzo was first elected in 2010, when he unseated Democrat Gene Taylor. Palazzo is a military veteran and often praises President Donald Trump. Deming says Palazzo isn't providing leadership for the district and isn't helping Trump. Deming was first elected to the Biloxi council in 2013. Mississippi's party primaries are March 10.

MISSISSIPPI-TEACHER PAY

Mississippi House passes bill to cover gap in teacher raise

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi House has voted to pay the full cost for this year's teacher pay raise. The raise was approved during the 2019 session. But, officials later discovered a bureaucratic error in counting teachers. That error meant too little money was set aside initially. The bill that passed Thursday will cover the shortfall of more than $18 million. The bill moves to the Senate for more work. It is expected to be approved there, too.

FATAL CARJACKING

Police: Man ambushed victims leaving 2 dead, 2 wounded

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi authorities say a man has been arrested and accused of shooting four people during an ambush that left two fatally wounded and one in critical condition. News outlets report 23-year-old Jason Michel was arrested and charged Wednesday with murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault, carjacking and possession of a weapon. Bay St. Louis Police Chief Gary Ponthieux says four people were pulling into an apartment complex when Michel shot at them and stole their car. Hancock County Coroner says 19-year-old Cheyanne Schultz and 23-year-old Morgan Landry were fatally shot. Andrew Rogers remains in critical condition and Sidney Foster was released with non-life threatening injuries. It's unclear whether Michel has an attorney.

AP-US-SOUTHERN-STORMS

Wicked weekend weather threatens several Southern states

Forecasters say a storm system bearing down on Southern states is looking more and more menacing, bringing the potential for tornadoes and fierce winds. The Storm Prediction Center says nearly 19 million people in Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma will be facing an enhanced threat of storms Friday that could include strong tornadoes and flooding rains. The area includes several major Texas cities including Dallas, Houston and Austin. The Storm Prediction Center projected Thursday that a more tightly defined area covering part of northeast Texas and the Louisiana cities of Shreveport and Monroe will be at an especially high risk of damaging winds.