August 17, 2009 Rotogram

LEGISLATIVE REPORT

      We’re pleased to welcome Mississippi Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant to give us a first-hand report from the State Legislature. The former State Auditor was elected Lt. Governor in November 2007.

NEXT WEEK – BULLDOG FOOTBALL

      Next Monday, Mississippi State’s Head Football Coach Dan Mullen, will be our guest. The first-year coach will give us a preview of this year’s Bulldogs and his expectations for the season which opens against Jackson State in less than 2 weeks. He will be introduced by Dave Boles.

LAST MONDAY AT ROTARY

Invocation and Pledge: Warren Housley.

Attendance: There were 105 members (67 active, 35 exempt, and 3 honorary) present. Missing were 66 active, 13 exempt, 7 honorary, and 4 members who are on leave.

Guests: Guests of members included Carles McComb, Stan Acy, and Denise Good of Jack Forbus; former member Charlotte Coker of Chip Templeton; David Dampier of Roy Ruby; Matt Link of Trey Breckenridge; Ray Vaughn of Allan Tucker; and Mike Cravens of Hank Moseley. Club guests were Ben Herring of the AG’s office; Rotary Exchange Students Francesca Scaravelli (Italy) and Kasper Eriksen (Denmark); Mentor Scholar Katherine Scott and her father John Scott; and Paul Sims, Starkville Daily News. They were introduced by Tommy Tomlinson.

      President Martha Wells introduced a very special friend, Starkville Centenarian Elizabeth Gwin who was there as a guest of Prentice Gordon. Martha said Elizabeth told her that one nice thing about being 100 years old is that you don’t have to deal with peer pressure!  She’s a remarkable lady.

Meeting Notes: President Martha Wells announced  the following post-Rotary committee meetings: Membership/Classification; Membership Development;  New Member Orientation; and Budget.

Get Swept Up: The “Rotary Minute” was given by Amy Tuck, who reviewed plans of the Community Service Committee, which she chairs. One of the first projects needing the participation of Rotarians is the community’s Get Swept Up campaign the week before Mississippi State’s opening football game. Volunteers are needed for the campaign, which will be Wednesday morning, Sept. 2. Sign up to help – it usually takes only an hour or two the first thing in the morning.

Mentor ScholarLarry Box introduced Katherine Scott, one of three 2009-10 Rotary mentor scholarship winners. Katherine spoke briefly to tell a bit about herself and thank Rotarians. She’s the granddaughter of former Starkville  Rotarian Sonny Fisher, a 2009 graduate of Starkville High School, and is majoring in elementary education. She is also working for Mike Nemeth in the Athletic Department.

      The Club awards three $1,000 mentor scholarships each year to graduates from Starkville or Oktibbeha County schools who enroll at MSU. Scholarship winners are chosen by the University.`The other scholars will be guests at future meetings of the Club.

A.G. DECLARES WAR ON CYBER CRIME

      As the state’s chief legal officer, Attorney General Jim Hood  has a wide range of responsibilities. Rather than reviewing all those things in which his office is involved, he chose to devote his remarks to a new kind of criminal activity that he is aggressively attacking. It’s called “cyber crime,” and it’s growing almost exponentially with rapid changes in electronic technology.

      Cyber crime encompasses everything from internet scams to identity theft to illegal downloading of music and other intellectual materials. What’s most worrisome to Hood, however, is the dangers inappropriate use of the internet, Face Book, and cell phones pose for children.

      With three young children of his own, Hood recognizes the dangers and has declared war on child pornography and sexual predators. “This (kind of criminal activity) can actually reach out and touch a child,” he said.

      In cooperation with Mississippi State and Jackson State Universities, Hood has established a Cyber Crime Center in Jackson, the only one of its kind in the nation. Top graduate students in computer science and engineering give the Mississippi Center access to “the best of the best.”

      One of the difficulties in fighting cyber crime has been that “technology is moving at the speed of light.” Last October, his staff went to Washington to be trained by the FBI, then later by an agency that developed advanced technology that now gives the Cyber  Center the capability to go online and instantly pinpoint all child porn that’s being downloaded in the entire state.

      He explained this is possible because of something called “time wire” that’s hidden in the acceptance terms of free software. It gives access to personal computers and also makes them accessible to the Cyber Crime Center.

      “We’ve been watching one target in south Mississippi. He downloaded 500 images (of child porn) in 30 days – most were grotesque. He’s our number 1 target.” The goal is to nail sexual predators before they can harm a child. This is a disease and those addicted can seldom be cured or rehabilitated, Hood explained.

      “You think that doesn’t happen here, but you’re wrong.” He said more than 2,000 Mississippians  downloaded porn images in one 30-day period. He cited figures from a survey of inmates in one prison that showed that 85% of the prisoners admitted that they had routinely downloaded pornography.

      “We’ve been hammering away at this…trying to ring a warning bell for parents.” He says parents need to know what their children are looking at on the home computer – “push the history button and see what’s coming into your home,” he urged. “Know  what they’re testing on cell phones – if necessary have the provider put a block on calls after 8 or 9 p.m.,” he suggested.

      Another danger he didn’t know anything about until 6 months ago is the increasing teen practice of sexting – kids send inappropriate or even nude photos of themselves to someone on their cell phones.

      “It’s a felony for anyone under the age of 18 that has a mandatory sentence of 5 years and up to 40 years. We can’t put kids in jail so we have to protect them. These things that are put out there end up on Face Book and once they are on the internet, they are there forever.” This can have a serious impact years later, when one is applying for a job for example.

      Hood says his daughter was using her mother’s cell phone and someone who was even aware of that, texted  sexually explicit messages. “Can you imagine someone sending something like that to the wife of the State Attorney General?” His 14-year-old daughter’s use of the cell phone was suspended immediately.

      Predators can get those numbers, he said. Kids today  are having to deal with this and Hood puts much of the blame on television,  not on a lack of morals. We’re  bombarded  by sex on TV, even in advertisements. “Be a parent,” he advised. “Ask but don’t grill. Discuss the dangers that exist in this cyber world. You have to be a psychologist.” His office has a wide range of printed materials designed to help parents available free on line www.ago.state.ms.us/ He and attorney generals in other states are working to get internet providers to do a more effective job of blocking.

      Other areas the Cyber Crime Center is dealing with include identity theft, intellectual property theft, marketing of counterfeit products ranging from fake prescription drugs to ipods and cameras, and a number of other scams.

      Mississippi ranks as the worst state in the nation for domestic violence. Hood’s Domestic Violence Office is working to correct that ranking, training justice courts, judges, and law enforement officials on how to deal with it.

      “It’s the wild, wild west out there (in cyberspace) and only the state attorney generals are policing it,” he concluded  before answering several questions from the audience. It was an enlightening and at the same time frightening program.

TWO PROPOSED FOR MEMBERSHIP

      Two individuals have been proposed and approved for membership in Starkville Rotary Club.

      Charlotte Coker, a former member of the Club, is proposed by Chip Templeton with the classification “Computer and Information Systems.”

      Stan Acy, president of The Citizens Bank, is proposed by Jack Forbus in the “Banking” classification.

A RESIGNATION

      The Board of Directors has accepted with regret the resignation of Janette Self, who was serving the second year of her term as a Club Director. In accordance with the Bylaws, the Board of Directors will elect a replacement for Janette, who represented the business  community as the Director with 5 years or less of membership.

OTHER BOARD ACTIONS

      In other actions, the Board approved an operating budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year of $186,560.

      It also approved revisions in the Club’s bylaws which will be presented to the membership at a future  meeting.

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