Daily Digest

Daily Digest - Apr 30

Thursday, April 30, 2009, 9:58 AM
  • Bill Moyers, The Journal (Video)
  •  I am a “prophet of doom”
  • King Report: Bonds Are Tanking
  • Commercial Real Estate: "World of hurt"
  • First Swine Flu death in Texas (video)
  • Don't Let the Flu Get You Down
  • Headwaters of the pathogen
  • Critical Alert: The Swine Flu Pandemic – Fact or Fiction?
  • Economy shrinks at 6.1 percent pace in 1Q
  • Historical Contribution to GDP (chart)
  • Q1 GDP Down 6.1% (Chart) 

Economy 

Bill Moyers, The Journal (Video)

I am a “prophet of doom”

heh heh:

Meet the Cassandras, 14 economists, bloggers, politicians and businesspeople of all political stripes who have become the most strident critics of President Obama’s stewardship of the economy . . . [I guess this means I am a bi-partisan critic]

Hard answers are in short supply. But here’s a guide to the prophets of doom. We’ve identified them, attempted to ascertain the moment when they first turned against the White House, and summarized the basic points of their critique. We’ve included economists, members of the business community, bloggers and, just for fun, two of the most anti-Obama Republicans we could dig up.

Yes, I am one of the 14:

BARRY RITHOLTZ: Author of financial blog the Big Picture; regular commentator on CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox and PBS; CEO and director of Equity Research at Fusion IQ, an online quantitative research firm. Barry Ritholtz has ridden his blog’s huge popularity to a bookstore near you. Keep your eye out for “Bailout Nation.”

Earliest critique: Jan. 29, 2009

Stimulus: Too small.

Banking plan: Will not work. Nationalization in the form of “prepackaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization is the fastest way to fix the banking system.”

Most hurtful quote: In response to Geithner’s statement that “We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we’d like to do our best to preserve that system,” Ritholtz exploded: “No! Defending these idiots was your old gig. In the new job, you no longer work for the cretins responsible for bringing down the global economy. Please stop rationalizing their behavior, and preserving the status quo!”

My big criticism of Obama is not his policies, but his appointments of Larry Summers and Tim Geithner. These two may end up being the Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld of the Obama administration.

Nice company to be in, too. Here’s the rest of the 14:

PAUL KRUGMAN:

MARTIN WOLF

SIMON JOHNSON

JIM ROGERS

NOURIEL ROUBINI

WILLEM BUITERS

GREG MANKIW

WILLIAM BLACK

DEAN BAKERRON PAUL

BARRY RITHOLTZ

YVES SMITH

JIM CRAMER

MICHELE BACHMANN

King Report: Bonds Are Tanking

Stocks rallied early and bonds sank on Tuesday on expectation that the release of GDP today would show a better than consensus number. The peculiarity of trade accounting mandates that GDP will be revised higher due to declining imports, which actually indicate economic ebbing. 

Stocks tried to conform to the pattern of rallying into FOMC soirees. This suggests a reversal today after the Communiqué is released - unless it contains unexpected bullish news…Because bonds are tanking, we wonder if the Fed will announce an increase in its $300B monetization plan. It would please Bill Gross.

The window for stocks to rally is closing. The most bullish seasonal, the propensity of stocks to rally from November 1 to April 30 (particularly small caps and tech), ends on Thursday. The short-term upward seasonal bias (end-of-month & start-of-month) ends on Friday.

Technical indicators on stocks and major indices are negative or rolling over because the momentum of the rally that commenced in mid-March has dissipated and volume remains soft…Banks, abetted by FASB accounting changes and other facilities, are issuing beaucoup securities. The Treasury is issuing like crazy and the May refunding looms…Insider selling is exploding.

Commercial Real Estate: "World of hurt"

From the Financial Times: Commercial mortgages at risk

“Commercial real estate is in a world of hurt and will be for at least the next two years,” said Ross Smotrich, analyst at Barclays Capital. “This is a capital intensive business in which lending capacity has diminished because of the absence of securitisation, while the fundamentals are driven by the overall economy so both occupancy and rents are declining.”

... At the end of the first quarter, defaults and payments more than 60 days late were at 1.53 per cent of outstanding mortgages. Fitch said they could reach 4 per cent by the end of 2010.
Rising vacancy rates and falling rents ... not the best fundamentals. The story is the same for retail, multi-family, industrial, and hotels. CRE: A world of hurt.

First Swine Flu death in Texas (video)

Don't Let the Flu Get You Down

The onset of a new strain of swine influenza A/H1N1 with 20 confirmed cases in the U.S. over the weekend shocked the financial markets Monday. The World Health Organization (WHO) grew this figure to 40 confirmed cases now in the U.S. The number of confirmed cases in Mexico is 26 as of today.

The hardest hit sector was the transports with the Dow Jones Transportation Index down 4.69% to 2990.74. The hardest hit industries were airlines and hotels with the Dow Jones Airline index down 12.03% and the Dow Jones Hotel index down 7.50%. Lean hog futures were down 4.09%. The S&P 500 index finished the day down 1.01% to 857.51.

The biggest threat right now is a pandemic outbreak. A pandemic virus infects humans and causes serious illness, possibly death. A pandemic virus must be easily transmitted and have sustainability. An airborne virus could potentially cripple the transportation sector and hinder the recovery of our markets.

The swine flu is not the first outbreak to become a possible pandemic outbreak this decade. We’ve already seen two before with the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and the Avian influenza between 2005 and 2006. SARS was acted on very quickly by the WHO to slow the transmission before it could become pandemic. The Avian flu of 2005 was not labeled as pandemic because it could not cause sustained and easy transmission.

The WHO issued a travel warning to Hong Kong and Guangdong in April 2003 and lifted it in June that year. It is very difficult to trace the effects of the epidemic and its effects on the transports when it happened in the midst of a cyclical low in the economy. The financial markets were rallying strongly with the start of the Iraq war as three months of uncertainty clouding the market were finally relieved.

Headwaters of the pathogen

A Mexican village whose inhabitants were overwhelmed by an outbreak of respiratory illness starting in February has emerged as a possible source of the swine flu outbreak which has now spread across the world.

The state government of Veracruz in eastern Mexico has confirmed one case of swine flu in the village of La Gloria with the sufferer named locally as a four-year-old boy, Edgar Hernández Hernández. The federal government said tonight that he tested positive for the same strain of the virus which has claimed lives in Mexico.

The boy's case earlier this month came amid an outbreak of respiratory illness in the area in which around 400 people requested medical help. The boy was treated in hospital and survived. But two babies from the same village died during the outbreak. Sufferers complained of symptoms including fever, severe cough, and large amounts of phlegm.

"The symptoms were exactly like the ones they talk about now [with swine flu]," said a local resident. "High fevers, pain in the muscles and the joints, terrible headaches, some vomiting and diarrhoea. The illness came on very quickly and whole families were laid up."

It remained unclear tonight whether the illness was swine flu but the Mexican government appeared to cast doubt on its original diagnosis of the outbreak as a more typical H2N3 flu virus when it revealed that the only sample it sent to North America for swine flu tests came back positive.

"The sample of one of the cases, that of a four-year-old boy, was kept," said federal health minister José Ángel Córdova. "It was among the samples sent [to labs abroad] and that came back confirmed."

The Veracruz state government had previously said the infants died of bacterial pneumonia and said it has no plans to exhume their bodies to find out if the cause of death was swine flu. ...

A La Gloria resident who spoke to the Guardian on condition of anonymity yesterday described how illness swept through the village. "Some people started getting ill in February and an eight-month-old baby died," she said. "After that another baby died on 21 March. Suddenly most of the village got ill. It was weekend and the tiny clinic here was closed. The state health authorities then did send doctors and nurses to look after us, and give us medication. About 60% of the village were ill and we asked them what it was and they said it was a severe and atypical cold. We talked about influenza and they said that was impossible, that influenza had been eradicated from Mexico." ...

The outbreak of respiratory illness in the area of the [Smithfield] Granjas Carroll plant was first detected at the beginning of this month by Veratect, a company based in Washington state which monitors the spread of disease and pandemics around the world for corporate clients.

On 6 April it reported local officials had declared a health alert. According to its dispatch: "Sources characterised the event as a 'strange' outbreak of acute respiratory infection, which led to pneumonia in some paediatric cases. Health officials recorded 400 cases that sought medical treatment in the last week in La Gloria, which has a population of 3,000; officials indicated that 60% of the town's population, approximately 1,800 cases, has been affected."

Local health officials established a health cordon around La Gloria and the monitoring company reported that officials launched a spraying and cleaning operation that targeted the fly suspected to be the disease carrier. "State health officials also implemented a vaccination campaign against influenza, although sources noted physicians ruled out influenza as the cause of the outbreak," it said.

Critical Alert: The Swine Flu Pandemic – Fact or Fiction?

This is NOT the First Swine Flu Panic

My guess is that you can expect to see a lot of panic over this issue in the near future. But the key is to remain calm -- this isn't the first time the public has been warned about swine flu. The last time was in 1976, right before I entered medical school and I remember it very clearly. It resulted in the massive swine flu vaccine campaign.

Do you happen to recall the result of this massive campaign?

Within a few months, claims totaling $1.3 billion had been filed by victims who had suffered paralysis from the vaccine. The vaccine was also blamed for 25 deaths.

However, several hundred people developed crippling Guillain-Barré Syndrome after they were injected with the swine flu vaccine. Even healthy 20-year-olds ended up as paraplegics.

And the swine flu pandemic itself? It never materialized.

More People Died From the Swine Flu Vaccine than Swine Flu!

It is very difficult to forecast a pandemic, and a rash response can be extremely damaging.

As of Monday April 27, the worldwide total number of confirmed cases was 82, according to WHO, which included 40 cases in the U.S., confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control. But does that truly warrant the feverish news headlines?

To put things into perspective, malaria kills 3,000 people EVERY DAY, and it's considered "a health problem"... But of course, there are no fancy vaccines for malaria that can rake in billions of dollars in a short amount of time.

One Australian news source,3 for example, states that even a mild swine flu epidemic could lead to the deaths of 1.4 million people and would reduce economic growth by nearly $5 trillion dollars.

Give me a break, if this doesn't sound like the outlandish cries of the pandemic bird-flu I don't know what does. Do you remember when President Bush said two million Americans would die as a result of the bird flu?

In 2005, in 2006, 2007, and again in 2008, those fears were exposed as little more than a cruel hoax, designed to instill fear, and line the pocketbooks of various individuals and industry. I became so convinced by the evidence AGAINST the possibility of a bird flu pandemic that I wrote a New York Times bestselling book, The Bird Flu Hoax, all about the massive fraud involved with the epidemic that never happened..

What is the Swine Flu?

Economy shrinks at 6.1 percent pace in 1Q

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The economy shrank at a worse-than-expected 6.1 percent pace at the start of this year as sharp cutbacks by businesses and the biggest drop in U.S. exports in 40 years overwhelmed a rebound in consumer spending.

Historical Contribution to GDP (chart)

Q1 GDP Down 6.1% (Chart)

23 Comments

MikeCMP's picture
MikeCMP
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Swine Flu

Thanks for the Digest, its my daily stop for good reading.

I especially love the article "Swine Flu, fact or fiction". The media tends to blow these "pandemics" so far out of proportion I doubt anyone is going to take seriously any warnings about a real pandemic. Although I feel a pandemic is inevitable, the media pays up the panic so much to make getting real info almost impossible.

The numbers from malaria and regular flu put things in perspective. I think I read that 28,000 people die in the US alone from flu every year. There are less than 100 people in the US.....

I'm not saying this CAN'T be a pandemic, but some sense in the reporting would definitely help people (sheeple) make better judgements on what to do and weigh the risks.

 

Mike

 

 

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Mikey1052
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 30

The pandemic that will kill us all unless, unless the government can save us from this event that is nor more than a proverbial fart in a whirlwind...

Never waste a crisis even if there is only a preceived crisis. Or is it merely a distraction from something bigger???

 

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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 30

Thanks Davos as always for the great articles, and thanks to this impressive community for their passion and involvement. Just MHO.

I am at a loss for why the hog producers are not being held accountable here.  Backyard farming is so much better with respect to the health of the animals and the people raising them.  Corporate hog/chicken/bovine farms are the source of much infectious disease stuff (like antibiotic resistant bacteria, e.g. strep suis and others). 

At the risk of sounding like a nutty vegetarian, where is the concern over how this industry has sickened the populace?  There is ample literature that there is a strong connection between poor farming practices and these nasty flu illness (think Guandong and Avian Influenza) now a pig farm may be the source of a worldwide pandemic. The corporations will never be held accountable.

I am a veggie but think backyard farms (maybe not for pigs....I think they are pretty hard to raise) are much more ethical and much safer for all.  It is just to easy for the gigantic agricorps to cost save by keeping these animals sick before slaughter by crowding and stressing them.  Then making them sources of antibiotic resistant bacteria by inundating them with antibiotics in the feed.  The stress makes them quite vulnerable to illness and puts the slaughterhouse workers and local communities at risk of catching whatever they come down with.....

I can find sources to back up these statements but for now I will say this is just my humble opinion.

Also, why the heck is the Dow skyrocketing???

Be Well

Denise 

 

DavidC's picture
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 30

I've just seen a great headline on Bloomberg TV

"Catastrophic Quarter is averted as job cuts help profits exceed estimates".

So, everything's OK...

Aieee...

David

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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 30

I don't know if this will or won't be a pandemic.

I will say that the way it was handled saddens me. I think they should have, as a precaution, isolated Mexico City, which, according to Bloomberg today is shutting down businesses from May 1 - May 5. Gas, Groceries, Banks and.....Airlines?! will remain open. Mexico Plans Partial Shutdown to Reduce Spread of Swine Flu

Airlines. IM never so HO .... On second thought, I'll just bight my tongue, I'm certain anyone here that knows me knows the Joe Biden remark that is ready to come out.

A friend of mine who moved to Arizona Facebooked me last night asking for Tamiflu, her husband (who told me and probaly her that I'm a wackjob survivalist and teases me about digging basements under my basement like Ted K. thinks I have some).

He has a prescription for it but can't get it filled. He is a friend of mine and I am thankful he doesn't have A(H1N1) and hope he gets some antiviral meds.

Well, at least there is one guy in DC that has it together.

 

mpelchat's picture
mpelchat
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 30

Put the link up if you have a chance, would love to see this one.

Anyhow, is it not like people celebrating profits, while the base or society crumbles.  Who will they sell stuff to next quarter? 

Somebody said this before:  no customers=no economy

Let me add to that: no jobs = no money (buying power) = no customers = no economy = no profits

I hope they have a good plan, because short term profit only from "restructuring" can lead to no future.

 

DavidC's picture
DavidC
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 30

Hi mpelchat,

Assuming you're referring to my post, here's the link. I agree with you absolutely! I'm wondering if 'Sell in May and go away' is going to be particularly apt.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a3fHcoDhtB4M&refer=home

David

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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 30

I would love that line of:

no jobs = no money (buying power) = no customers = no economy = no profits

I should put that on my FB

 

 

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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 30

this outrageous budget is getting approved, and it isn't even main page news.......had to hunt for it.

http://money.cnn.com/2009/04/29/news/economy/budget_resolution/index.htm

I saw it briefly on MSN, now it is gone.....this isn't even the original story, but I guess it will do.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30452357/

This passing is horrible. It is just as bad that they are all keeping their mouth shut on it too. Of coarse I get this next link from Campaign for Liberty....

http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2009/roll216.xml#N   this is the vote count....

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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 30

 Oh with all eyes on the A(H1N1) puppet show I can't wait to see what gets by.

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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 30

Credit Default Swaps May Be Playing a Supporting Role in Chrysler Bankruptcy Filings -- Seeking Alpha

Quote:

In an odd twist, enough of Chrysler’s creditors voted against the administration’s reorganization and recapitalization plan to force the automaker into bankruptcy. Credit default swaps may be playing a supporting role in this drama, as I’ll get to at the bottom…

 

But pious arguments with respect to the rule of law may be masking other incentives the creditors have to force Chrylser into bankruptcy… (WSJ)

Quote:

Bank-debt holders, many of them hedge funds or distressed debt funds, voted against the latest deal for various reasons, ranging from financial interests to philosophical ones. Some said their funds had bigger positions in Ford Motor Co. or General Motors Corp. and could benefit by a Chrysler bankruptcy and the production capacity that may eliminate. Some funds may also have credit-default swaps on Chrysler bank debt that pay out in the event of a bankruptcy.

Credit default swaps may be playing a particularly sinister role in bankruptcy filings. As reported earlier in FT, this WSJ op-ed, and a year ago on OA, CDS give their holders a perverse incentive to root for bankruptcy. Where this gets tricky is if the holders of CDS are themselves bondholders in a distressed company. Since there’s not much limit to the amount of exposure one can take in CDS contracts referencing a particular credit, it can be profitable to load up on CDS and then buy just enough of the actual bonds so that you can force a bankruptcy. You lose on the bonds you own, but gain far more on the CDS that pay out as a result…

 

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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 30
Davos wrote:

 Oh with all eyes on the A(H1N1) puppet show I can't wait to see what gets by.

you know, I gotta say, it is definitely interesting timing on this flu fiasco. I bet they will use this to sneak many important items through. Lord knows the budget is a huge one. Its pretty bad when even the CBO is estimating trillion dollar deficits through 2019 (like we will get that far, lol)

Even with Obama's rosy unrealistic budget plan, it still leaves over 500billion deficits for the next decade after 2011.

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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 30

 Hello That1Guy:

500billion deficits --- what strain are those? Will Tamiflu work on them???

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that1guy
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 30
Davos wrote:

IA friend of mine who moved to Arizona Facebooked me last night asking for Tamiflu, her husband (who told me and probaly her that I'm a wackjob survivalist and teases me about digging basements under my basement like Ted K. thinks I have some).

 

I seem to be getting this from a few people as well. The disconnect with many of the general population still amazes me, especially when all the numbers and issues are there for everyone to see. It is simply surprising to me...I mean no matter how one interpretes the facts (numbers, stats and what not) it boils down to trouble a brewing.

 

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that1guy
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 30
Davos wrote:

 Hello That1Guy:

500billion deficits --- what strain are those? Will Tamiflu work on them???

LOL, hey, it might....we are already piling trillions on the problem, might as well through everything else at it...why stop now, LOL

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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 30

Just felt obligated to respond to Denise that hogs are actually about the easiest large animal livestock to raise at home.  I have a friend who raises six a year, and all it takes is a lean-to for shade, a two-foot-high electric fence, ideally some mud for a wallow, and you can feed them just about anything.  They're hardy, friendly, and very efficient feed converters.  There's nothing remotely tricky or arcane about them, and as a conscientious meat-eater (I only eat free-ranged from people I personally know and trust), I have to completely agree that factory farmers should be held responsible for their reprehensible and dangerous practices.

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coyote-smiles
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 30

 

WTH.  Is he serious??  Someone... preferably better at math than I am??

Damnthematrix's picture
Damnthematrix
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 30

That list of doom prophets somehow left out Gerald Celente....  but put in Cramer?  Hah!

Mike

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Damnthematrix
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one down, two to go...
Chrysler officially files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
 
 

1 May 2009

 

    CHICAGO, April 30 (Xinhua) -- Chrysler LLC officially announced on Thursday that the once auto giant will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy shortly after U.S. President Barack Obama made a midday speech, in which he indicated that the troubled automaker will form an alliance with the Italian carmaker Fiat Group SpA.

    In a statement, Chrysler said it was not able to obtain the necessary concessions from all of its lenders, which would have avoided the need for a bankruptcy proceeding. As a result, under the direction of the U.S. Treasury, Chrysler and 24 of its wholly owned U.S. subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions under Chapter 11of the Bankruptcy Code in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

    At the same time, Chrysler announced that it has reached an agreement in principle to establish a global strategic alliance with Fiat SpA to form a vibrant new company. It will allow Chrysler and Fiat to fully optimize their respective manufacturing footprints and the global supplier base, while providing each with access to additional markets. Fiat power trains and components will also be produced at Chrysler manufacturing sites.

    "While I am excited about the creation of the global alliance, I am personally disappointed that today Chrysler has filed for Chapter 11. This was not my first choice," said Bob Nardelli, chairman and CEO of Chrysler.

Mike Pilat's picture
Mike Pilat
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 30

Interesting thoughts on the flu. I'm not so cynical (yet?) as to believe the flu is somehow designed, but any smart person in government will recognize this as a timely opportunity when the public will be "looking the other way." In any event, I do get the sense that the world is long overdue for a plague of sorts, whatever shape that may take.

TimesAwasting's picture
TimesAwasting
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 30

I think it should be called the Flu of Convenience... Did you know that the House passed Obama's $3.4 Trillion budget... it's titled "A New Era of Responsibility"... I swear I'm not making that up; google the US 2010 Budget!

How further in-debting our great grandchildren is Responsible is beyond me... guess I just don't understand all this high-fallutin' gov't financing.

The Senate will easily pass the bill and The Savior will certainly sign it into law... just a little more of Change we can believe (oops, go bankrupt) in!

How do I get off this Merry-go-round?

Davos's picture
Davos
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 30

I really don't know what to make of the flu.

Until I watched this Dr. Henry Niman (Video A(H1N1) Google Tracking)  I was really thinking it would be a non event and leaning towards the Natural Health articles I had posted a few days ago.

One thing for certain, Emanual (?SP) won't let a crisis go to waste I don't think.

Take care

mpelchat's picture
mpelchat
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Re: Daily Digest - Apr 30

At least this Dr. Niman is giving facts and working with historical references.  I hope the CDC is up on there history as well.

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