Archive for the ‘Members’ Corner’ Category

‘Colossal Backdoor Bailout’: Outrage as Pentagon Funnels Hundreds of Millions Meant for Covid Supplies to Private Defense Contractors

 

'Colossal Backdoor Bailout': Outrage as Pentagon Funnels Hundreds of Millions Meant for Covid Supplies to Private Defense Contractors

"If you can't get a Covid test or find an N95, it’s because these contractors stole from the American people to make faster jets and fancy uniforms."

By Jake Johnson

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley hold an end of year press conference at the Pentagon on December 20, 2019 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley hold an end of year press conference at the Pentagon on December 20, 2019 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Instead of adhering to congressional intent by building up the nation's inadequate supply of N95 masks and other equipment to combat the Covid-19 crisis, the Pentagon has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars in appropriated taxpayer funds to private defense contractors for drone technology, jet engine parts, Army uniform material, body armor, and other purposes not directly related to the pandemic.

As the Washington Post reported Tuesday morning, the Department of Defense—headed by former Raytheon lobbyist Mark Esper—"began reshaping how it would award the money" just weeks after Congress in March approved a $1 billion fund under the Defense Production Act to help the nation "prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus."

"The Trump administration has done little to limit the defense firms from accessing multiple bailout funds at once and is not requiring the companies to refrain from layoffs as a condition of receiving the awards," the Post noted. "Some defense contractors were given the Pentagon money even though they had already dipped into another pot of bailout funds, the Paycheck Protection Program."

As the U.S. still faces major shortages of testing supplies and N95 masks six months into the pandemic, the Post reported that the Pentagon has used congressionally approved funds to dish out $183 million to luxury carmaker Rolls-Royce and other companies to help "maintain the shipbuilding industry," tens of millions for "drone and space surveillance technology," and $80 million to "a Kansas aircraft parts business."

A subsidiary of Rolls-Royce also received $22 million from the Pentagon "to upgrade a Mississippi plant," according to the Post.


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CULTS, LIES, AND MORE SADOPOPULISM

 

Mindy asked me these questions about Trump’s Town Hall yesterday: 


Her questions assume that the GOP wants the same form of government we want. Her questions assume that the truth matters to the GOP.

They don’t, and it doesn’t. Sociologist Max Weber explains why.

In his essay, Politics as Vocation, he describes three sources of authority:

  • Traditional (monarchy)
  • Charismatic leader (fascism). Today we’d say “cult leader” or “demagogue.”
  • Rule of law (democracy)


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The case of Biden versus Trump – or how a judge could decide the presidential election

 

The case of Biden versus Trump – or how a judge could decide the presidential election

Will judges decide who wins the presidential election? Geoff Livingston/Getty

By John E. Finn, Wesleyan University

Imagine the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. Given the unprecedented number of mail-in votes this election, Americans may wake up and still not know who won the presidential contest between Republican President Donald J. Trump and Democratic challenger Joseph Biden.

The contest could be so close that a result can’t be known until mail-in ballots in several key states, perhaps Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan or Florida, can be fully counted.

It’s conceivable that either candidate will refuse to accept the result, whether before or after the counting of absentee or mail-in ballots. That could lead to several lawsuits to stop the counting, to keep counting or to force a recount.

Amid what will likely be a flood of charges, countercharges and a lot of heated rhetoric from campaigns and supporters, there are prescribed legal processes that will play out in the event of election challenges. Here is how that will likely work.

Where challenges begin – and often end

With only a few exceptions, states run elections. By virtue of Article 1, Section 4 of the Constitution, state law governs almost every facet of the electoral process, including most aspects of voter eligibility, the location and hours of polling places, candidate access to the ballot and the members of the state’s Electoral College.

Consequently, electoral challenges must begin – and often will end – in state courts, which will apply that state’s laws.

A candidate who wants to challenge the result in any particular state must first identify what provision of state law the election did not satisfy. In a closely contested national election, where the results in some states are in doubt and may be for many days, this will likely result in several cases being filed simultaneously in several states, and by both major party candidates.

Congress has also provided that each state must have a mechanism for resolving any disputes that arise and that the state’s determination “shall
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US-China fight over fishing is really about world domination

 

US-China fight over fishing is really about world domination

China has clashed with neighbors over its fishing in the contested South China Sea, pictured here. Controversially, Chinese fishermen also venture as far as Argentina and Ecuador. Yao Feng/VCG via Getty Images

Courtesy of Blake Earle, Texas A&M University

China’s aggressive, sometimes illegal fishing practices are the latest source of conflict with the United States.

China has the world’s largest fishing fleet. Beijing claims to send around 2,600 vessels out to fish across the globe, but some maritime experts say this distant-water fishing fleet may number nearly 17,000. The United States has fewer than 300 distant-water ships.

According to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, nations control marine resources within a 200-mile “exclusive economic zone”; beyond that are international waters. While the U.S. never signed the treaty, it has declared a 200-mile offshore exclusive economic zone.

Bolstered by generous subsidies and at times protected by armed coast guard cutters, Chinese fishermen have been illegally fishing near the Korean Peninsula and in the South China Sea, a hotly contested area claimed by six countries. By exploiting these waters China has come to dominate the international squid market. Nearly half of this catch is exported to other Asian nations, Europe and the United States.

Chinese ships have even pushed as far as Africa and South America, where fishermen have been known to remove their identifying flags to avoid detection. In 2017 Ecuador caught 20 Chinese fishermen in the environmentally protected Galapagos Marine Reserve and sentenced them to four years in prison for capturing thousands of sharks, the primary ingredient in a Chinese delicacy, shark fin soup.

In August, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized China for “predatory fishing practices” that violate “the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of coastal states.”

Police escort a man off a bus

A crew member of the Chinese-flagged ship confiscated by the Ecuadorean navy arrives for a court hearing in the Galápagos Islands on Aug. 25, 2017. Juan Cevallos/AFP via Getty Images

China’s Foreign Ministry…
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Can Trump and McConnell get through the 4 steps to seat a Supreme Court justice in just 6 weeks?

 

Can Trump and McConnell get through the 4 steps to seat a Supreme Court justice in just 6 weeks?

A political battle is shaping up over the confirmation of the next Supreme Court Justice. Jose Luis Magana / AFP/Getty Images

By Caren Morrison, Georgia State University

United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Sept. 18, thrusting the acrimonious struggle for control of the Supreme Court into public view.

President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have already vowed to nominate and confirm a replacement for the 87-year-old justice and women’s rights icon.

This contradicts the justification the Republican-controlled Senate used when they refused to consider the nomination of Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s pick for the Court after the death of Antonin Scalia in February 2016.

Garland, a moderate judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, was nominated in March 2016, but McConnell balked on the basis that it was an election year.

“The American people are about to weigh in on who is going to be the president,” said McConnell in March 2016. “And that’s the person, whoever that may be, who ought to be making this appointment.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Lindsey Graham walking together

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Lindsey Graham both have consequential roles in the confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The 2020 presidential election was just 46 days away on the day of Bader Ginsburg’s death, but McConnell has apparently abandoned such considerations this time around. Trump tweeted on Sept. 19 that he would nominate a replacement “without delay.”

Since the 1990s, the Supreme Court has increasingly split 5-4 along ideological lines on many important cases, including decisions on voting rights, affirmative action, gay marriage, the Affordable Care Act, gerrymandering and gun rights.

Being able to replace a reliable liberal voice on the Court with a conservative justice would entrench a 6-3 tilt towards the right for years. There is bound to be vehement opposition from the Democrats.

However the politics play out, there is a…
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Ruth Bader Ginsburg helped shape the modern era of women’s rights – even before she went on the Supreme Court

Supreme Court Justice RBG passed away from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer yesterday. RIP, the Notorious RBG.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg helped shape the modern era of women's rights – even before she went on the Supreme Court

Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg paying a courtesy call on Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., left, and Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., in June 1993, before her confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court. AP/Marcy Nighswander

Courtesy of Jonathan Entin, Case Western Reserve University

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday, the Supreme Court announced.

Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement that “Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature.”

Even before her appointment, she had reshaped American law. When he nominated Ginsburg to the Supreme Court, President Bill Clinton compared her legal work on behalf of women to the epochal work of Thurgood Marshall on behalf of African-Americans.

The comparison was entirely appropriate: As Marshall oversaw the legal strategy that culminated in Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 case that outlawed segregated schools, Ginsburg coordinated a similar effort against sex discrimination.

Decades before she joined the court, Ginsburg’s work as an attorney in the 1970s fundamentally changed the Supreme Court’s approach to women’s rights, and the modern skepticism about sex-based policies stems in no small way from her lawyering. Ginsburg’s work helped to change the way we all think about women – and men, for that matter.

I’m a legal scholar who studies social reform movements and I served as a law clerk to Ginsburg when she was an appeals court judge. In my opinion – as remarkable as Marshall’s work on behalf of African-Americans was – in some ways Ginsburg faced more daunting prospects when she started.

Thurgood Marshall, in 1955, when he was the chief counsel for the NAACP. AP/Marty Lederhandler

Starting at zero

When Marshall began challenging segregation in the 1930s, the Supreme Court had rejected some forms of racial discrimination even though it had upheld segregation.


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What if he doesn’t leave?

 

What if he doesn’t leave?

Courtesy of 

If Donald Trump loses the election – by any margin – does anyone see him actually conceding? Me neither. Biden may not be so fast to concede either, especially given the nature of a pandemic at the polls. The (mostly made up) controversy about mail-in ballots is sure to make this an election to remember. Contested elections have been rare in recent history, but not unheard of. How might the market react, before, during and after?

Listen to the new episode of my podcast below or wherever your favorite podcasts are streamed.

This week Josh talks to Business Insider columnist Linette Lopez about what happens to the stock market if Trump loses and doesn’t leave. And is Joe Biden so terrible for investors? Tax expert and Ritholtz Wealth CFO Bill Sweet weighs in. Plus, Josh’s take on the explosive Snowflake IPO and a round of What Are Your Thoughts? with Michael Batnick.

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Faked videos shore up false beliefs about Biden’s mental health

 

Faked videos shore up false beliefs about Biden's mental health

Joe Biden faces a disinformation campaign promulgating the false notion that he is in cognitive decline. Gage Skidmore/Flickr, CC BY-SA

By Dustin Carnahan, Michigan State University

From Ronald Reagan in 1984 to Bob Dole in 1996 and even Hillary Clinton in 2016, candidate health has become a common theme across recent U.S. presidential campaigns.

The issue is poised to take on added significance this fall. No matter who wins, the U.S. is set to inaugurate its oldest president by a wide margin.

The Trump campaign and its surrogates have seized on Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s age and have been painting him as mentally unfit for the presidency. Videos of Biden falling asleep during an interview, misspeaking about the dangers of “Joe Biden’s America” and appearing lost during a campaign event have bolstered the belief, particularly among Trump supporters, that Biden is in cognitive decline.

There’s just one problem: None of these videos are what they seem, and some of the events depicted didn’t happened at all. Technological developments have made it easier for people to produce seemingly real videos that are anything but. These deceptively altered videos have become a major element of disinformation campaigns that wield falsehoods in an effort to sway voters.

Deepfakes and cheapfakes

Altering videos can be as minimal as removing a few frames to as extensive as dramatically altering whole videos using Hollywood-style special effects. The latter has been enabled by advances in artificial intelligence and “deep learning” technology. Deep learning makes it possible to create hyper-realistic though entirely fictional videos called “deepfakes.”

Deepfakes are created by programs that accumulate a library of existing photos, videos and audio clips to learn a person’s manners of speech, expression and behavior. Using this data, these programs can then render a composite image of the person that can be made to say and do anything the programmer wants, such as President Richard Nixon announcing the loss of the Apollo 11 astronauts.

Deepfake videos are


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What Happened to the Criminal Case against Goldman Sachs at Barr’s Justice Department?

Courtesy of Pam Martens

U.S. Attorney General William Barr

U.S. Attorney General William Barr

On December 6 of last year, four reporters at Bloomberg News signaled that the U.S. Department of Justice was close to a settlement of its criminal investigation of Goldman Sachs in the 1MDB matter. The reporters wrote as follows:

“The Justice Department and other federal agencies, in internal discussions held in recent weeks, have weighed seeking penalties between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, the people said. That’s less than what some analysts have signaled Goldman might have to pay. While a settlement could be announced as soon as next month, the terms could change before a deal is finalized…”

The terms, indeed, seem to have changed. It’s now more than 9 months since that article was published and there hasn’t been a peep out of the Justice Department about criminal charges against Goldman Sachs. According to the Bloomberg report, Barr has “directly immersed himself in the case.”

Both Barr and the Deputy Attorney General, Jeffrey Rosen, hail from Kirkland & Ellis, one of the primary law firms representing Goldman in the matter. Barr was “Of Counsel” to Kirkland while Rosen worked at the law firm for 29 years. (See Top Men at Justice Department with Final Say on Goldman Sachs Felony Charges Got Big Payouts from Kirkland & Ellis – Goldman’s Law Firm.)

1MDB is a sovereign wealth fund in Malaysia. Goldman raised over $6 billion in bond offerings for the fund. According to the Justice Department, $4.5 billion of that was “misappropriated” and used “to fund the co-conspirators’ lavish lifestyles, including purchases of artwork and jewelry, the acquisition of luxury real estate and luxury yachts, the payment of gambling expenses, and the hiring of musicians and celebrities to attend parties.” Bribes and kickbacks were also allegedly made. Goldman made more than $600 million in fees from the bond offerings.

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Who formally declares the winner of the U.S. presidential election?

 

Who formally declares the winner of the U.S. presidential election?

With rare exceptions, like the 2000 presidential election, the winning candidate usually declares victory on election night. But the win isn’t actually certified until January. ranklin McMahon/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

By Amy Dacey, American University

With the U.S. presidential election rapidly approaching at a time of extraordinary political and social disruption, the possibility of an unclear or contested result is coming under scrutiny.

Unlike many other countries, where the president or prime minister is chosen by direct popular vote, in the U.S., a candidate may win the popular vote and still not be elected to the nation’s highest office. The U.S. also differs from most other democracies in that it has no independent electoral commission to certify the final vote count.

So who actually confirms the winner?

Step #1: Before Election Day

American democracy has many elected officials – state, local and national – and many processes for getting into office.

I have been working on election campaigns since I was eight years old, when my dad ran for school board and I went door to door asking people to vote for him. I’ve also worked on local, congressional, senate and presidential races and now direct an academic research center on politics.

What’s striking is that every race is different, from deadlines and filing process to certification. Here, I’ll focus here on the presidential race.

The unusual and complicated presidential election certification process in the U.S. entwines all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the Senate, House of Representatives, the National Archives and the Office of the Federal Register. It also involves the Electoral College – a uniquely American institution that convenes in 51 separate locations once every four years to pick the president.

The neoclassical National Archives building in Washington, D.C.

Certified presidential election results are stored in perpetuity at the National Archives. UpstateNYer via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

This four-month process was custom designed as a compromise by the Founding Fathers, who did not believe the American people…
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ValueWalk

5 truths about the second round of coronavirus stimulus checks

By Aman Jain. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Whether or not Congress will be able to issue another coronavirus relief package or if there will be another round of direct payments is the biggest question nowadays. Although no one has accurate answers to these questions, there are a few truths about the next round of coronavirus stimulus checks.

Truths about coronavirus stimulus checks

The first truth is that everyone wants to send stimulus checks. “Everyone” here means Republican and Democratic lawmakers and President Donald Trump. Both Republicans and Democrats have included stimulus checks in their proposals, the HEALS Act and HEROES Act, respectively. Alt...



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Zero Hedge

The State's Response To This "Virus" Is Nothing More Than A Weapon Of Mass Submission

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Authored by Gary Barnett via LewRockwell.com,

“The great masses of men, though theoretically free, are seen to submit supinely to oppression and exploitation of a hundred abhorrent sorts. Have they no means of resistance? Obviously they have. The worst tyrant, even under democratic plutocracy, has but one throat to slit. The moment the majority decided to overthrow him he would be overthrown. But the maj...



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Phil's Favorites

Venture Capital...Big Money Still Flowing and Power In The Valley

 

Venture Capital…Big Money Still Flowing and Power In The Valley

Courtesy of Howard Lindzon 

Money continues to flow into the venture capital industry.

I won't complain.

The money flow should increase as rates stay low and the mantra of alternative investing picks up pace. I can feel that happening.

One big rule change that should really accelerate money flows is the final Volcker Rule:

The Final Volcker Rule[1], which goes into effect October 1, 2020, makes a number of significa...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Key Inflation Indicators Facing Big Test In September!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Inflation has long been a word that the Federal Reserve uses but the general markets have forgotten about.

Why? Well because it’s been virtually non-existent for years. Key indicators like commodities (i.e. copper) have been in a down-trends and the Materials Sector (XLB) has lagged… until this year.

In today’s chart 3-pack, we take a look at the Equal Weight Commodity Index, ...



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Digital Currencies

The Great Unbanking: How DeFi Is Completing The Job Bitcoin Started

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Authored by Paul De Havilland via CoinTelegraph.com,

While most of us will prefer to forget the horrors of 2020, DeFi may well prove to be the guarantee of a better, more liberated future...

...



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Politics

'Colossal Backdoor Bailout': Outrage as Pentagon Funnels Hundreds of Millions Meant for Covid Supplies to Private Defense Contractors

 

'Colossal Backdoor Bailout': Outrage as Pentagon Funnels Hundreds of Millions Meant for Covid Supplies to Private Defense Contractors

"If you can't get a Covid test or find an N95, it’s because these contractors stole from the American people to make faster jets and fancy uniforms."

By Jake Johnson

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley hold an end of year press conference at the Pentagon on December 20, 2019 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Instead of adhering to congressional inten...



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Biotech/COVID-19

How and when will we know that a COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective?

 

How and when will we know that a COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective?

How much longer must society wait for a vaccine? ANDRZEJ WOJCICKI/Getty Images

By William Petri, University of Virginia

With COVID-19 vaccines currently in the final phase of study, you’ve probably been wondering how the FDA will decide if a vaccine is safe and effective.

Based on the status of the Phase 3 trials currently underway, it i...



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Chart School

Stocks are not done yet - Update

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

There are a few times in history when a third party said this US paper (stocks, funds or bonds) is worthless.

Here is two.

1) 1965 Nixon Shock - The French said to US we do not want your paper dollars please pay us in gold. This of course led to the US going off the gold standard.

2) 2007 Bear Stern Fund Collapse - Investors said their funds collateral was worth much less than stated. This of course was the beginning of the great america housing bust of 2008.


In both cases it was stated .."look the Emperor is naked!"... (The Empe...

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The Technical Traders

Adaptive Fibonacci Price Modeling System Suggests Market Peak May Be Near

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Our Adaptive Fibonacci Price Modeling system is suggesting a moderate price peak may be already setting up in the NASDAQ while the Dow Jones, S&P500, and Transportation Index continue to rally beyond the projected Fibonacci Price Expansion Levels.  This indicates that capital may be shifting away from the already lofty Technology sector and into Basic Materials, Financials, Energy, Consumer Staples, Utilities, as well as other sectors.

This type of a structural market shift indicates a move away from speculation and towards Blue Chip returns. It suggests traders and investors are expecting the US consumer to come back strong (or at least hold up the market at...



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Lee's Free Thinking

Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia - The Branch COVIDIANS Are Still Burning Down the House

 

Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia – The Branch COVIDIANS Are Still Burning Down the House

Courtesy of Lee Adler, WallStreetExaminer 

The numbers of new cases in some of the hardest hit COVID19 states have started to plateau, or even decline, over the past few days. A few pundits have noted it and concluded that it was a hopeful sign. 

Is it real or is something else going on? Like a restriction in the numbers of tests, or simply the inability to test enough, or are some people simply giving up on getting tested? Because as we all know from our dear leader, the less testing, the less...



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Insider Scoop

Economic Data Scheduled For Friday

Courtesy of Benzinga

  • Data on nonfarm payrolls and unemployment rate for March will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.
  • US Services Purchasing Managers' Index for March is scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. ET.
  • The ISM's non-manufacturing index for March will be released at 10:00 a.m. ET.
  • The Baker Hughes North American rig count report for the latest week is scheduled for release at 1:00 p.m. ET.
...

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Promotions

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Feb. 26, 1pm EST

Click HERE to join the PSW weekly webinar at 1 pm EST.

Phil will discuss positions, COVID-19, market volatility -- the selloff -- and more! 

This week, we also have a special presentation from Mike Anton of TradeExchange.com. It's a new service that we're excited to be a part of! 

Mike will show off the TradeExchange's new platform which you can try for free.  

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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

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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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