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Posts Tagged ‘America’

Kidnapping, Torture, and Reflections on Alleged “American Values”

Mish is on fire today with excellent posts. Here, Mish reports on the horrifying story of what the CIA did in kidnapping the wrong man, a German citizen Khalid El-Masri, and the CIA’s subsequent torture and abuse of him. Our court system failed too, citing "national security" grounds to throw out Khalid El-Masri’s case against the CIA.  (Sounds like a specious excuse to me as sensitive information wouldn’t have to be made public.) – Ilene 

Kidnapping, Torture, and Reflections on Alleged "American Values"

Courtesy of Mish 

I do not agree with using torture, nor do I believe the end justifies the means. The problem with both is that others can act the same way.

If the US can torture to extract vital information, then why can’t Iran and every other country on the planet?

It is pure hypocrisy to think that the US has a monopoly on "justified torture". Indeed, there is no such thing as "justified torture".

This has been my position forever. I bring it up because of a post Barry Ritholtz made yesterday stipulating “Torture didn’t provide useful, meaningful, trustworthy information”

“Torture [at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp] didn’t provide useful, meaningful, trustworthy information. Everyone [at the CIA] was deeply concerned and most felt it was un-American and did not work.” – Glenn L. Carle, a retired C.I.A. officer who oversaw the interrogation of a high-level detainee in 2002

“The bottom line is this: If we had some kind of smoking-gun intelligence from waterboarding in 2003, we would have taken out Osama bin Laden in 2003. It took years of collection and analysis from many different sources to develop the case that enabled us to identify this compound, and reach a judgment that Bin Laden was likely to be living there.” – Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times — repeatedly misled interrogators about the courier’s identity. …

Barry Ritholtz went on to say "Thinking that torture is wrong is not a liberal or conservative value — it is an American value."

I sure wish Barry was correct. Sadly he is not, at least right now. Both president Bush and president Obama have condoned torture.

Moreover, President Obama had a campaign pledge to shut Guantanamo Bay. Sadly, I report Guantanamo Bay is still in operation. On March 8, 2011, the Irish Times noted Guantánamo trials freeze lifted

Hina Shamsi,


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America’s Two Economies, and Why One is Recovering and the Other Isn’t.

America’s Two Economies, and Why One is Recovering and the Other Isn’t.

wall street, economyCourtesy of Robert Reich 

Next time you hear an economist or denizen of Wall Street talk about how the “American economy” is doing these days, watch your wallet.

There are two American economies. One is on the mend. The other is still coming apart.

The one that’s mending is America’s Big Money economy. It’s comprised of Wall Street traders, big investors, and top professionals and corporate executives.

The Big Money economy is doing well these days. That’s partly thanks to Ben Bernanke, whose Fed is keeping interest rates near zero by printing money as fast as it dare. It’s essentially free money to America’s Big Money economy.

Free money can almost always be put to uses that create more of it. Big corporations are buying back their shares of stock, thereby boosting corporate earnings. They’re merging and acquiring other companies.

And they’re going abroad in search of customers.

Thanks to fast-growing China, India, and Brazil, giant American corporations are racking up sales. They’re selling Asian and Latin American consumers everything from cars and cell phones to fancy Internet software and iPads. Forty percent of the S&P 500 biggest corporations are now doing more than 60 percent of their business abroad. And America’s biggest investors are also going abroad to get a nice return on their money.

So don’t worry about America’s Big Money economy. According to a Wall Street Journal survey released Thursday, overall compensation in financial services will rise 5 percent this year, and employees in some businesses like asset management will get increases of 15 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is back to where it was before the Lehman bankruptcy filing triggered the financial collapse. And profits at America’s largest corporations are heading upward.

But there’s another American economy, and it’s not on the mend. Call it the Average Worker economy.

Last Friday’s jobs report showed 159,000 new private-sector jobs in October. That’s better than previous months. But 125,000 net new jobs are needed just to keep up with the growth of the American labor force. So another way of expressing what happened to jobs in October is to say 24,000 were added over what we need just to stay even.

Yet the American economy has lost 15 million jobs since the start of the Great Recession. And if you add in the growth of…
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Living Beyond Our Means: 3 Charts That Prove That We Are In The Biggest Debt Bubble In The History Of The World

Living Beyond Our Means: 3 Charts That Prove That We Are In The Biggest Debt Bubble In The History Of The World

Courtesy of Michael Snyder at Economic Collapse 

Do you want to see something truly frightening?  Just check out the 3 charts posted further down in this article.  These charts prove that we are now in the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world.  As Americans have enjoyed an incredibly wonderful standard of living over the past three decades, most of them have believed that it was because we are the wealthiest, most prosperous nation on the planet with economic and financial systems that are second to none. 

But that is not even close to accurate.  The reason why we have had an almost unbelievably high standard of living over the past three decades is because we have piled up the biggest mountains of debt in the history of the world.  Once upon a time the United States was the wealthiest country on the planet, but all of that prosperity was not good enough for us.  So we started borrowing and borrowing and borrowing and we have now been living beyond our means for so long that we consider it to be completely normal. 

We have been robbing future generations blind for so long that it doesn’t even seem to bother most people anymore.  We have become accustomed to living in debt.  We go into massive amounts of debt to get an education, we go into massive amounts of debt to buy a home, we go into massive amounts of debt to buy our cars, and we even pile up debt to buy holiday gifts and to purchase groceries.

Just check out the chart posted below.  It shows the total credit market debt owed in the United States.  In other words, it is a measure of what everyone owes (government, businesses and consumers). 

30 years ago, total credit market debt owed was less than 5 trillion dollars.  Today, it is over 50 trillion dollars.  Total credit market debt is now at a level equivalent to about 360 percent of GDP.  This is what has been fueling the great era of "economic prosperity" that we have been experiencing….        

So what is the answer to this problem? 

The truth is that there is not an easy answer under our current system.  The only way that the U.S. economy continues to "grow" is if the debt bubble continues to "expand". …
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Currency Wars: Debase, Default, Deny!

Currency Wars: Debase, Default, Deny! 

Hiker pausing at fork in path

Courtesy of Gordon T Long of Tipping Points

In September 2008 the US came to a fork in the road. The Public Policy decision to not seize the banks, to not place them in bankruptcy court with the government acting as the Debtor-in-Possession (DIP), to not split them up by selling off the assets to successful and solvent entities, set the world on the path to global currency wars.

By lowering interest rates and effectively guaranteeing a weak dollar through undisciplined fiscal policy, the US ignited an almost riskless global US$ Carry Trade and triggered an uncontrolled Currency War with the mercantilist, export driven Asian economies. We are now debasing the US dollar with reckless spending and money printing with the policies of Quantitative Easing (QE) and the expectations of QE II. Both are nothing more than effectively defaulting on our obligations to sound money policy and a “strong US$”. Meanwhile with a straight face we deny that this is our intention. 

It’s called debase, default and deny.

Though prior to the 2008 financial crisis our largest banks had become casino like speculators with public money lacking in fiduciary responsibility, our elected officials bailed them out. Our leadership placed America and the world unknowingly (knowingly?) on a preordained destructive path because it was politically expedient and the easiest way out of a difficult predicament. By kicking the can down the road our political leadership, like the banks, avoided their fiduciary responsibility. Similar to a parent wanting to be liked and a friend to their children they avoided the difficult discipline that is required at certain critical moments in life. The discipline to make America swallow a needed pill. The discipline to ask Americans to accept a period of intense adjustment. A period that by now would be starting to show signs of success versus the abyss we now find ourselves staring into.  A future that is now significantly worse and with potentially fatal pain still to come.

Unemployed Americans, the casualties of the financial crisis wrought by the banks, witness the same banks declaring record earnings while these banks refuse to lend. When the banks once more are caught with their fingers in the cookie jar with falsified robo-signing mortgage title fraud, they again look for the compliant parent to look the other way. Meanwhile the US debt levels and spending associated with protecting these failed…
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Our Future as Chinese Subjects?

Saturday [Sunday] Night Video: Our Future as Chinese Subjects?

Courtesy of Joshua M Brown, The Reformed Broker 

You’ve got to hand it to whomever came up with this commercial and then put it together, it hits all the right beats – the Chinese college students laughing at the American flag!  You can just imagine the effectiveness of this imagery in certain parts of this country.

China’s been an empire in ascent and decline, on and off, for centuries – their recorded history of various dynastic eras stretches back 5000 years.  America is a two-hundred-year-old infant in comparison.  I don’t need to live in an empire per se but I am stirred by the message a bit myself, even if it leaves out the fact that China needs us as much as we need it.

Anyway, this is a phenomenal piece of hysteria and I predict it will work perfectly from a political standpoint this fall…


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Is America In Decline? 24 Statistics About The United States Economy That Are Almost Too Embarrassing To Admit

Is America In Decline? 24 Statistics About The United States Economy That Are Almost Too Embarrassing To Admit

Courtesy of Michael Snyder at Economic Collapse (H/tip to Eddy Elfenbein at Crossing Wall Street)

Does anyone really want to hear that America is in decline?  For decades, most of us have been raised to believe that the United States is "number one" and that anyone who doubts that fact is a "gloom and doomer" that should just pack up and move to "Russia" or "Iraq" or some other country where things are not nearly as good.  But does it do us or future generations any good to ignore the very serious signs of trouble that are erupting all around us? 

The truth is that it is about time to wake up and admit how much trouble we are actually in.  The U.S. government is absolutely drowning in debt.  The entire society is absolutely drowning in debt.  We are being slaughtered in the arena of world trade, and every single month tens of billions of dollars (along with large numbers of factories and jobs) leave our shores for good.  Our infrastructure is failing, our kids are less educated and our incomes are going down.  We have serious, serious problems.  At one time, the U.S. economy was so dominant that it was not even worth talking about who was in second place.  That is no longer the case in 2010.  Our forefathers handed us the greatest economic machine in history and we have allowed it to fall apart right in front of our eyes.  A national economic crisis of historic proportions is getting worse with each passing month, and yet most of our leaders seem to be asleep at the switch.  

So is American in decline?  Well, read the statistics below and decide for yourself.  The reality is that when you start connecting the dots it gets really hard to deny what is going on.

Urgent action must be taken if…
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AMAZING WAY TO RUN AN ECONOMY….

AMAZING WAY TO RUN AN ECONOMY….

the federal reserveCourtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist 

No wonder America is losing more and more of the wealth pie to Asia.  This quote from David Rosenberg pretty much speaks for itself:

“Brian Sack at the New York Fed stressed the need for the Fed’s actions to bolster asset inflation as to boost the wealth effect on spending (QE “adds to household wealth by keeping asset prices higher than they otherwise would be…”).  We just can’t seem to wean ourselves off this asset-dependent economy — and how directed by a Fed official that the attempt here is to bring asset values above their intrinsic value.  Amazing way to run an economy.  Whatever happened to skills, productivity, education, job creation, innovation?  Or thrift — when did that virtue become a dirty six-letter word?”

I’m thoroughly disgusted with the response of government over the last 24 months….

Source: Gluskin Sheff

Pic credit: Jesse’s Café Américain


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Is America a plutonomy?

Is America a plutonomy? – Salon.com

It’s dangerously unstable when 5 percent of American earners account for 35 percent of all consumer spending

By Michael Lind

Has the American economy turned into a "plutonomy"?

In 2005, three Citigroup analysts — Ajay Kapur, Niall MacLeod and Narendra Singh — answered yes. They explained: "Plutonomies have occurred before in sixteenth century Spain, in seventeenth century Holland, the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties in the U.S … Often these wealth waves involve great complexity, exploited best by the rich and educated of the time." According to the Citigroup experts, a plutonomic economy is driven by the consumption of the classes, not the masses: "In a plutonomy there is no such animal as ‘the U.S. consumer’ or ‘the UK consumer,’ or indeed the ‘Russian consumer.’ There are rich consumers, few in number, but disproportionate in the gigantic slice of income and consumption they take. There are the rest, the ‘no-rich,’ the multitudinous many, but only accounting for surprisingly small bites of the national pie." The Citigroup analysts speculated that a plutonomic world economy could be driven by the spending of the world’s rich minority, whose ranks are "swelling from globalized enclaves in the emerging world."

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Is America a plutonomy? – U.S. Economy – Salon.com – Phil’s Favorites.


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America’s Lost Decade – Another One in Progress Now

America’s Lost Decade – Another One in Progress Now

Courtesy of Mish 

The US used to point the finger at Japan’s "Lost Decade" saying "It won’t happen here." But it did. Median wages are nearly 5% lower in real terms than in 2000, the poverty rate is at a 15 year high, and the S&P 500 is about 20% lower than it was a decade ago.

Pleased consider the Wall Street Journal article Lost Decade for Family Income

The downturn that some have dubbed the "Great Recession" has trimmed the typical household’s income significantly, new Census data show, following years of stagnant wage growth that made the past decade the worst for American families in at least half a century.

The bureau’s annual snapshot of American living standards also found that the fraction of Americans living in poverty rose sharply to 14.3% from 13.2% in 2008—the highest since 1994. Some 43.6 million Americans were living below the official poverty threshold, but the measure doesn’t fully capture the panoply of government antipoverty measures.

The inflation-adjusted income of the median household—smack in the middle of the populace—fell 4.8% between 2000 and 2009, even worse than the 1970s, when median income rose 1.9% despite high unemployment and inflation. Between 2007 and 2009, incomes fell 4.2%.

Lost Decade Lowlights

  • Americans living in poverty rose sharply to 14.3% from 13.2% in 2008
  • Poverty level is the highest since 1994
  • 43.6 million Americans are living below the official poverty threshold
  • Inflation-adjusted income of the median household fell 4.8% between 2000 and 2009
  • The number of 25-to-34-year-olds living with their parents rose 8.4% to 5.5 million in 2010 from 2008
  • Child poverty rose to 23.8% for kids under six in 2009, compared to 21.3% a year earlier

Census Bureau Charts

Here are a few select charts from Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009, Issued September 2010.

click on any chart for sharper image

Real Incomes 1967 to 2009

Poverty Rates 1959 to 2009

In general, the chart shows the "War on Poverty" was a failure regardless of what political party was in office. The odd pair of Clinton and Nixon did the best, while Carter and George W. Bush the worst. Reagan and George H. Bush both had roller coasters ending about where they started, while Ford essentially experienced a flatline.

Since the…
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INNOVATION: America has a Structural Problem

This is a terrific article (yellow highlighting mine), courtesy of Gordon T. Long, The Tipping Point  - Ilene 

INNOVATION

America has a Structural Problem 

It’s a STRUCTURAL problem not a CYCLICAL problem! 

It’s a DEMAND problem not a SUPPLY problem! 

 

 

I gave President Barrack Obama six months to roll-out his doomed Keynesian policies, twelve months to discover they were flawed and eighteen months to realize that the solution to America’s problems must lie within a different economic framework. I had hoped by the end of twenty-four months to see new policies closer to an Austrian economic philosophy emerge. I was wrong.

 

Though, even the Wall Street Journal recently featured an article on the re-emergence of the Austrian School of Economic philosophy, it would appear that President Obama’s administration still neither gets it, nor I am afraid ever will. Key defections by his leading economic advisors, talk of the need for QE II and a Stimulus II, and a political collapse in public confidence suggests a growing awareness that Keynesian policies are not working, as many predicted they wouldn’t. Obama’s exciting rhetoric of Hope and Change has left myself and the majority of recent polled Americans disillusioned and disappointed. What I see the administration failing to grasp is twofold:

 

I-America has a Structural problem, not a cyclical business cycle problem. Though the cyclical business cycle was greatly worsened by the financial crisis, I would argue that the structural problem facing the US is actually a contributor to what caused the financial crisis.


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Zero Hedge

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Teenage Son Mugged Near Home

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

While the shockingly large scale of death and violence in Chicago has now become so mainstream as not to warrant daily attention by the media, the news that Mayor Rahm Emanuel's son Zach was robbed of his cellphone and assaulted around 10:05pm Friday night near the family's affluent neighborhood home is likely to raise public awareness of just how bad things are getting in 'Chiraq'. As The Chicago tribue reports, two males approached Zach from behind; one of them "placed his arm around the victim's neck in a rear chokehold,&qu...



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Pharmboy

2015 - Biotech Fever

Reminder: Pharmboy is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs!   The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down!  The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months.  What could go wrong?

Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.

Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies.  A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...



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Phil's Favorites

Really, Greece Again?

Courtesy of John Rubino.

The Greek financial/political crisis is becoming an annual event. For a sense of just how long this unfortunate little country has been struggling to survive under the relative sound money regime of the eurozone, here’s a Greek Crisis Timeline that CNN published in 2011. Even back then the pattern of near-collapse followed by temporary respite had been repeating for seven years.

The most recent lull seemed longer than usual, so long in fact that many people probably assumed that Greece had been “fixed” and was now a more-or-less fully-functioning member of the eurozone, ready to settle back into its enviable lifestyle of hosting tourists, drinking ouzo and avoiding taxes.

But no. Nothing has really changed. Youth unemployment remains around 50% —...



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Chart School

Can you make a living trading Springs and UpThrusts?

Courtesy of Read the Ticker.

We tell the truth about trading springs and upthrusts, no holding back!

More from RTT Tv

NOTE: readtheticker.com does allow users to load objects and text on charts, however some annotations are by a free third party image tool named Paint.net Investing Quote...

..“The market always tells you what to do. It tells you: Get in. Get out. Move your stop. Close out. Stay neutral. Wait for a better chance. All these things the market is continually impressing upon you, and you must get into the frame of mind where you are in reality taking your orders from the action of the market itself — from the tape.”…

Richard D. Wyckoff
.."Markets are constantly in a state of unce...



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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: David is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.




To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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Insider Scoop

#PreMarket Prep Guest List For The Week Of December 22, 2014

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Brian Kelly, Curtis Erickson and Jerremy Newsome will all be guests on this shortened week of Benzinga's #PreMarket Prep broadcast, sponsored by Nadex.

Be sure to tune in at 8:00 am EST Monday-Friday here to tune in to the exciting show.

Don’t miss our #FedForecast2015 event either!

You can learn more about that here.

Monday, December 22, 8:35 a.m.

Jonathan Corpina (...



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Digital Currencies

Chart o' the Day: Don't "Invest" in Stupid Sh*t

Joshua commented on the QZ article I posted a couple days ago and perfectly summarized the take-home message into an Investing Lesson. 

Chart o’ the Day: Don’t “Invest” in Stupid Sh*t

Courtesy of 

The chart above comes from Matt Phillips at Quartz and is a good reminder of why you shouldn’t invest in s...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of December 15th, 2014

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...



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Sabrient

Sector Detector: Energy sector rains on bulls' parade, but skies may clear soon

Reminder: Sabrient is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Courtesy of Scott Martindale of Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

Stocks have needed a reason to take a breather and pull back in this long-standing ultra-bullish climate, with strong economic data and seasonality providing impressive tailwinds -- and plummeting oil prices certainly have given it to them. But this minor pullback was fully expected and indeed desirable for market health. The future remains bright for the U.S. economy and corporate profits despite the collapse in oil, and now the overbought technical condition has been relieved. While most sectors are gathering fundamental support and our sector rotation model remains bullish, the Energy sector looks fundamentally weak and continues to ran...



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Stock World Weekly

Stock World Weekly

Newsletter writers are available to chat with Members regarding topics presented in SWW, comments are found below each post.

Here's this week's Stock World Weekly.

Click here and sign in with your user name and password. 

 

...

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Option Review

SPX Call Spread Eyes Fresh Record Highs By Year End

Stocks got off to a rocky start on the first trading day in December, with the S&P 500 Index slipping just below 2050 on Monday. Based on one large bullish SPX options trade executed on Wednesday, however, such price action is not likely to break the trend of strong gains observed in the benchmark index since mid-October. It looks like one options market participant purchased 25,000 of the 31Dec’14 2105/2115 call spreads at a net premium of $2.70 each. The trade cost $6.75mm to put on, and represents the maximum potential loss on the position should the 2105 calls expire worthless at the end of December. The call spread could reap profits of as much as $7.30 per spread, or $18.25mm, in the event that the SPX ends the year above 2115. The index would need to rally 2.0% over the current level...



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Market Shadows

Official Moves in the Market Shadows' Virtual Portfolio

By Ilene 

I officially bought 250 shares of EZCH at $18.76 and sold 300 shares of IGT at $17.09 in Market Shadows' Virtual Portfolio yesterday (Fri. 11-21).

Click here for Thursday's post where I was thinking about buying EZCH. After further reading, I decided to add it to the virtual portfolio and to sell IGT and several other stocks, which we'll be saying goodbye to next week.

Notes

1. th...



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Help One Of Our Own PSW Members

"Hello PSW Members –

This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible.  Feel free to contact me directly at jennifersurovy@yahoo.com with any questions.

Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts.  After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.)  Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.

http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-get-shadowfax-out-from-the-darkness-of-medical-bills-/126743

Thank you for you time!




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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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About Ilene:

Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

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