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TODD SMITH — Holiday retail sales forecast brisk, fueled by online shopping surge

Based on consumer spending reports from the National Retail Federation, products in the General Merchandise category, including gift cards, clothing, books and media are the items that top most consumers’ wish lists this holiday season. Sales are expected to increase by 3.4 percent with online shopping becoming the most popular consumer experience for the first time in survey history. Global ...

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BILL CRAWFORD: Stark health needs get little attention from state leaders

Have Mississippi leaders become so accustomed to bottom national rankings that they don’t care anymore?   Take health rankings for example. Mississippi has ranked among the bottom three since 1990. You know it’s bad when the Mississippi State Department of Health posts on its web site, “Mississippi ranks last, or close to last, in almost every leading health outcome.”   ...

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TODD SMITH — Local newsrooms can still flourish, compete in digital age

Since 2000, nearly half of newsroom jobs – more than 20,000 of them – have disappeared. Revenues have plummeted by almost $20 billion. Newspapers continue to be shuttered, and layoffs are a regular headline. In telling the story of the changing fortunes of the newspaper industry, the focus has been on large metro and national newspapers. Less attention is given ...

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Analysis: Mississippi budget practices receive mixed grades

A nonpartisan group that evaluates state government budget practices is giving mostly midlevel marks to Mississippi. The Volcker Alliance was formed four years ago by Paul A. Volcker, a former board chairman of the Federal Reserve, with the goal of making government more efficient. The alliance issued a report Nov. 2 called “Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting,” which evaluates all states’ ...

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BILL CRAWFORD: Reeves’ fiscal plan risky for teachers and retirees

State economist Darrin Webb projects state general fund revenues will fall for the third consecutive year. That’s unusual. According to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, declines of just two years in a row “have only occurred four previous times since 1970.” Jeff Amy with the Associated Press in an excellent analysis of the Mississippi’s economy said, “State spending this year ...

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TODD SMITH — Fake news hurts trust in media, especially social

Controversies over fake news have damaged trust in media in the United States and elsewhere, but the impact is far worse for social media and online-only outlets than it is for traditional print and TV outlets, a survey has found. The research and data company Kantar, in a survey of 8,000 people in the United States, Brazil, Britain and France, ...

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Analysis: There’s no hiding Mississippi’s economic weakness

Let’s make this simple — Mississippi’s economy is weak and shows few signs of growing stronger. This is a state where total economic output in 2016 still was lower than in 2008, before the recession. Not coincidentally, it’s a state where employers had fewer workers on their payrolls in September 2017 than in February 2008. And that 2008 peak came ...

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BILL CRAWFORD — Put the spotlight on big business to grow U.S. jobs

President Trump and Republican leaders in Congress should add one small thing to the tax reform bill to truly help make American great again.   In case you haven’t noticed, corporate earnings are driving the stock market to record highs. Across the board, earnings are up; earnings are strong.    When the corporate tax cut House Republican leaders revealed last ...

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TODD SMITH — National Publicist Day a day for the ages

We celebrated National Publicist Day earlier this week – on Monday, Oct. 30 It honors the date in 1906 when the New York Times printed the very first press release written by Ivy Lee, considered by many to be “The Father of Modern PR.” The Pennsylvania Railroad was Lee’s client. On Oct. 28, 1906, 50 people tragically lost their lives ...

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PHIL HARDWICK — A Q&A with Knox Ross

It’s been a while since I had a chance to visit with former Pelahatchie Mayor Knox Ross so I reached out to him online. Here’s my interview with the personable and accomplished Ross. What are you doing these days? I am completing an 11-month assignment as the CEO of the Coordinating and Development Corporation in Shreveport. The CDC is an ...

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