Daily Digest

Daily Digest - June 23

Wednesday, June 23, 2010, 9:48 AM
  • Middle-Class Tax Cuts May Be On Chopping Block, House Majority Leader Says
  • Asian Millionaires Overtake Europeans
  • Bank Failures Through 2014 Will Cost $60 Billion, FDIC Says
  • Osborne Increases U.K. Value-Added Tax Rate to 20%
  • UK Banks Hit With $3 Billion Tax; France, Germany Follow
  • Cost Of Air Travel Set To Rise Because Of Increased Aviation Taxes (UK)
  • Skyrocketing Pension Costs Threaten To Swallow Alameda’s Budget Whole
  • Santa Ana Eliminates Police Overtime
  • Rejected Goldman Advertising Slogans
  • Obama's Oil Drilling Ban Overturned
  • Beau Biden, Other AGs Urge BP To Protect East Coast
  • Tar Balls Wash Up Between Destin And PCB
  • Gulf Coast Beaches Update
  • Oil Spill Puts The Gulf Oyster Industry On Ice


Middle-Class Tax Cuts May Be On Chopping Block, House Majority Leader Says

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer tiptoed into dangerous political territory Tuesday, suggesting that to cut the government's record budget deficits dramatically, popular middle-class tax reductions set to expire at year's end could be extended only temporarily. Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, also suggested that future Social Security benefits may have to be trimmed to contain the national debt. Those calls from the House of Representatives' second-ranking Democrat, at a Washington budget conference, were seen as an important political step as well as a legislative trial balloon.

Asian Millionaires Overtake Europeans

The net wealth of Asian millionaires has eclipsed that of rich Europeans for the first time, largely because of the relative health of stock markets in Hong Kong, India and China last year, according to a new survey.

The annual Merrill Lynch Wealth Management /Capgemini analysis of investors with $1m or more in assets found that as of late last year, there were 3m millionaires in both the Asia-Pacific and Europe. The survey quantified the wealth held in Asia at $9,700bn, compared with $9,500bn in Europe.

Bank Failures Through 2014 Will Cost $60 Billion, FDIC Says

U.S. bank failures through 2014 will drain $60 billion from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. fund that protects customer accounts in the event of a collapse, the agency said today.

Osborne Increases U.K. Value-Added Tax Rate to 20%

British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne increased the value-added tax rate to 20 percent from 17.5 percent in the first permanent change to the levy on sales of goods and services in almost two decades.

“The years of debt and spending make this unavoidable,” Osborne told Parliament in London in his emergency budget today as he announced a package of spending cuts and tax increases to cut the U.K.’s record deficit.

UK Banks Hit With $3 Billion Tax; France, Germany Follow

Britain slapped a 2 billion pound ($3.1 billion) annual tax on banks on Tuesday and Germany and France said they will follow suit, telling the industry it must pay for its part in the financial crisis.

Cost Of Air Travel Set To Rise Because Of Increased Aviation Taxes (UK)

Already facing a sharp rise in Air Passenger Duty in November, the small print of the Budget shows that more increases are likely with the Treasury planning to raise £3.8 billion in 2014-15 from air travel, compared to £1.9 billion last year.

Skyrocketing Pension Costs Threaten To Swallow Alameda’s Budget Whole

The numbers that crossed the screen looming over the dais in City Council chambers last Tuesday night were staggering: unfunded pension costs of $176.5 million and climbing, driven by investment losses of 24 percent in 2009 and the city’s running failure to pay more than the minimum balance on what’s due. Annual pension benefits for Alameda’s youngest public safety retirees are now into the six figures, lifted by longer life expectancies, wages that have more than doubled since 1994 and a pension benefit that earns them three percent of their top wage for every year served.

“We can’t duck this any longer,” Councilman Frank Matarrese said in an interview Friday. “We have a lot of catching up to do.”

Santa Ana Eliminates Police Overtime

Police working in some of Orange County's most difficult and dangerous neighborhoods have had their overtime pay cut to nothing as the city strains to make ends meet. The City Council approved a budget late Monday that eliminates overtime at every level of the Police Department, from the patrol officers chasing suspects to the detectives chasing leads.

Faced with layoffs, Police Chief Paul Walters said he decided that erasing overtime pay from the budget was the lesser evil. He said he has never gone without overtime pay for his officers in more than 20 years in the chief's office.

Rejected Goldman Advertising Slogans (Humor..posted at MarketWatch)

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is considering a new advertising campaign to boost its public image......Via Staples: "That was sleazy."

Via the Yellow Pages: "Let your lawyers do the talking."

Via Avis: "We lie harder."

Via AT&T : "Reach out and short someone."

Via BMW: "The ultimate bilking machine."

Via Maxwell House "Good to the last default."


Obama's Oil Drilling Ban Overturned (Posted by Damnthematrix)

Now a New Orleans judge has overturned the six-month ban, saying the Interior Department failed to provide adequate reasons for it.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says president Barack Obama strongly believes that drilling at such depths does not make any sense and puts the safety of workers at risk. The court order was a big victory for offshore energy producers including BP, Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell, whose operations have been hamstrung by the ban.


Beau Biden, Other AGs Urge BP To Protect East Coast

In letters released this week, attorneys general from states including Maryland, North Carolina and Massachusetts asked BP, Halliburton, Transocean and Cameron to agree to pay claims filed in the Atlantic coast states related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

If the oil reaches the Gulf Stream, it could spread far beyond the southern United States, the letters state: “Portions of the East Coast are at foreseeable risk of substantial harm.”

Tar Balls Wash Up Between Destin And PCB

Lots of tar balls were on the beach here yesterday, and they are still in the water now. That's what Chris Wilson found on his swim fin after diving in the kiddy pool. "It's a tar ball. We were out diving and came back in and turned it over and there it is. Stuck, it's like glue.

A contract crew from BP cleaned the beach, and people were back in the water again today. Wilson dives these waters every year, and said he sees a big change today, not as much underwater wildlife. "I think it's going to change the gulf for at least my lifetime," Wilson said.

Gulf Coast Beaches Update

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, have experienced significant oiling, according to the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau. "The beaches are open and visitors are still welcome to sunbathe and walk the beach, but we strongly suggest they swim in a pool or enjoy our many off-beach activities," the site said.

The Alabama Department of Public Health has issued an advisory against swimming in waters off Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan or in bay waters close to Fort Morgan, Bayou St. John, Terry Cove, Cotton Bayou and Old River.

Oil Spill Puts The Gulf Oyster Industry On Ice

Whether they're deep-fried, baked or served on the half-shell, most of the oysters eaten by Americans start their journey to the gullet in the Gulf of Mexico. But with the Gulf now awash in oil, the supply is down, prices are up, restaurants are going oyster-less, and there appears to be no quick fix to the crisis. After all, suppliers on the Atlantic Coast and in the Pacific Northwest can't simply make more oysters.


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Re: Daily Digest - June 23

"Still, like other cash-strapped economies on Europe’s southern fringe, Portugal is having to pay up to borrow from the market: The average interest rate it paid today was 4.657% compared with 3.701% at an auction in late May.

And while worries about Europe’s debt crisis have ebbed of late, traders in the derivatives market remain on edge.

Earlier this morning, the cost of insuring against the risk of sovereign debt defaults in Greece, Ireland, Spain and Portugal shot higher. It now costs $322,000 a year to insure $10 million of Portuguese bonds against default compared with $296,000 on Tuesday, according to CMA DataVision. Greece’s insurance cost is nearing $900,000 again from $849,000. And Ireland has hit $273,000 from $263,000."

"Investor worries over eurozone banks resurfaced on Tuesday after a warning by a European Central Bank governing council member that some faced funding difficulties."

"Christian Noyer, governor of the Banque de France, appeared to go further than other ECB council members in admitting that “some banks have started facing increasing funding problems”. He was speaking on Monday but markets only started to react on Tuesday."

"June 23 (Bloomberg) -- European governments will consider imposing a charge on bond sales by countries that violate debt rules in the wake of the Greece-driven fiscal crisis, a draft document showed.

The extra interest would be paid into a blocked account and confiscated if the debt doesn’t come back into line. The proposal, to be discussed by economic officials from the 27 European Union nations today and by finance ministers on July 12, adds sanctions on debt to the bloc’s deficit penalties, which no country has suffered in the euro’s 11½-year history."

"June 23 (Bloomberg) -- Michigan’s auto-industry collapse, which led to the worst home-price drop among U.S. states, has forced some of its wealthiest and fastest-growing communities to seek state aid to prevent municipal bond defaults.

Detroit, slammed by the state’s 74 percent housing-price decline, warned of bankruptcy when it borrowed in March to cover part of a $280 million deficit. Now, nearby communities in Livingston County such as Hartland Township and Howell Township may need legislation to help make bond payments."

"Livingston’s townships sold assessment-backed bonds during the decade it was the state’s fastest-growing county, said Dianne Hardy, the treasurer, in a telephone interview.

‘It Just Stopped’

“As soon as they would fill one development they’d start another, and then one day it just stopped,” Hardy said. “Now the ground is not worth what it cost to put the infrastructure in.”"

"Tax Receipts Aren't Rebounding Quickly Enough to Offset Declining Federal Aid; Push for Additional Medicaid Help Stalls"

"States have long known stimulus funds sent their way early in the recession would taper off in the first half of 2011. But many hoped a rebound in tax receipts would close the gap.

While state revenues have rebounded somewhat, legislatures still must grapple with deficits totalling $127 billion over the next two fiscal years, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers.

"Meanwhile, many lawmakers in Washington, concerned about a U.S. budget deficit that could rise by as much as $11 trillion over the next decade, are opposing more spending"

Already, state and local governments have cut more than 230,000 jobs since August 2008, or about 1.2% of overall payrolls, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while thousands of other positions have gone unfilled. The private sector has shed more than eight million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's economy.com, said states could lose an additional 400,000 to 500,000 jobs over the next year without additional aid."


"German's budget savings policy risks destroying the European project and a collapse of the euro cannot be ruled out, billionaire investor George Soros said in a newspaper interview released on Wednesday.

"German policy is a danger for Europe, it could destroy the European project," said Soros, who earned $1 billion in 1992 by betting against the British pound.

He added in an interview with German weekly Die Zeit that he "could not rule out a collapse of the euro".

"Right now the Germans are dragging their neighbours into deflation, which threatens a long phase of stagnation. And that leads to nationalism, social unrest and xenophobia. Democracy itself could be at risk," he said."

"Maywood, a small working-class community south of downtown Los Angeles, plans to lay off all its employees, disband its Police Department and turn over its entire municipal operations to a neighbor — an action that appears to be without precedent among California cities.

Several cities in the state have said that they are close to bankruptcy because of the sharp drop in sales and property tax revenues caused by the deepest recession in decades. But experts who track California cities say Maywood is the only case they know of in which a city has dismissed all top positions except for the city manager, city attorney and elected officials. Under the plan adopted by the City Council on Monday night, council members would continue to be paid to set policy, but all services would be contracted out."

"June 23 (Bloomberg) -- Greece’s banks have borrowed about 89.4 billion euros ($110 billion) in so-called repurchase agreements with the European Central Bank, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

Greek banks turned to the ECB for cash after the global financial crisis that peaked in 2008 and this year’s sovereign fiscal debacle curbed their access to wholesale funding and bond markets. The nation’s banks have also been hurt by losing about 7 percent of their deposits, totalling an estimated 21 billion euros, Moody’s said in a report yesterday.

“Changes to the funding profile of Greek banks have widened maturity mismatches and depleted” their “market- funding franchise,” Cyprus-based Moody’s analysts Constantinos Kypreas and Mardig Haladjian wrote in the report. “The high reliance on ECB funding is neither desirable nor sustainable long term.”"

"Poland was the only economy in the 27-strong European Union to avoid recession last year and is expected to grow by about 3 percent in 2010 but the general government deficit remains more than double the 3-percent level allowed in the EU.

"For five years we've been saying that public finances need a reform," the daily Rzeczpospolita quoted Fitch's Piotr Kowalski as saying. "It's a burning issue now."

Fitch rates Poland A- with a stable outlook.

"If there are no reforms which will improve public finance's situation by 2012, the negative pressure on Poland's rating will be huge," he added."

"Romania sold roughly a quarter as much as planned in a tender for one-year bills and the average accepted yield jumped by more than half a point, showing its unwillingness to accept debt costs above 7 percent.

Central bank data on Monday showed the finance ministry sold 331 million lei ($97 million) in one-year paper, versus a planned 1.2 billion, with the average yield at 6.85 percent. The cut-off yield was at 6.98 percent.

"It's clear that 7 percent is their cap," said one trader in Bucharest.

Analysts had expected the ministry to reject all bids above a range of 6.8-7.0 percent and sell significantly below the planned amount. At previous tenders this month the ministry also rejected bids above 7 percent.

Uncertainty over the government's ability to enforce sharp state wages and pensions cuts has led to a rise in secondary debt market yields, while on the primary market the ministry has rejected all bids or scaled back issuance since May."

"June 23 (Bloomberg) -- Purchases of new homes in the U.S. fell in May to a record low as a tax credit expired, showing the market remains dependent on government support.

Sales collapsed a record 33 percent to an annual pace of 300,000 last month from April, less than the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News and the fewest in data going back to 1963, figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington. Demand in prior months was revised down.

The end of a tax incentive worth as much as $8,000 means the market will now be dependent on gains in employment, which are needed to lift incomes, brace confidence and contain foreclosures. A lack of inflation and concern over jobs and housing are among reasons Federal Reserve policy makers may reiterate a pledge to keep interest rates near zero. "

"(Reuters) - China's yuan eked out a tiny gain on Wednesday after its biggest swings since 2005 earlier this week, suggesting Beijing's promise of currency flexibility will not produce the rapid gains its trading partners would like."

"Citing concern about the country's record budget deficit and mounting debt, U.S. lawmakers have so far balked at spending more taxpayer money to aid hiring, on top of the $787 billion emergency fiscal package Obama signed last year.

But Obama, who is expected to urge leaders at a Group of 20 summit this weekend in Canada to keep their foot on the policy accelerator, stressed more well-aimed stimulus was needed.

"We discussed the need for progress to continue to move forward on an agenda of targeted measures that can help small businesses invest, that can make sure that unemployed workers are getting hired, that continue to add to the momentum of job growth and economic growth," he said."

"Few, if any, Fed watchers are expecting the U.S. central bank to raise rates when they announce their interest rate decision this afternoon. But most do expect the Fed to start tightening sometime in the foreseeable future.

Michael Pento, chief market strategist at Delta Global Advisors, is not one of them. Pento is confident the Fed’s next move will be to ease rates. “Ben Bernanke is a student of the Great Depression and he doesn’t want his tenure to be marked by the second Greater Depression,” he says. “So he will do whatever he can to boost money supply and fight deflation.”

How will he do that with rates already at 0-0.25%?

Obviously, they can’t lower rates. The Fed is also reluctant to start buying more mortgage-backed securities so soon after ending that program. The alternative, Pento says, is for the Fed to stop paying interest on excess reserves, a move that will drive banks to lend instead of sit on their cash."

  • Other news and headlines:

Housing Market Threatens US Recovery as Sales Slide Resumes

AIG Bailout May Result In Loss, Geithner Says

Illinois Takes BABs Across the Pond

EIU Borrowing To Make Up For Overdue State Money (Illinois)

Italy Selling First Euribor Certificates to Attract New Buyers

Thousands stranded by Greek port blockade

IMF disbursement delay to weaken rupee: Report (Pakistan)

Sarkozy Needs 'Sharp Turn' to Meet Deficit Target, Auditor Says (France)

Hungary Leasing Firms: Market To Collapse Due To Extra Tax

Philippine Budget Deficit Exceeds H1 Target In Jan-May

LA Unified budget includes nearly 3000 layoffs

Mayor: Without union concessions, Allentown heading for 'distressed' status

State jobless fund in the red (California)

SF School Board Expected To Pass Budget Full Of Painful Cuts Tonight  ("$113 million deficit projected over the next two years")

Special Grand Jury Releases Findings On East Hampton Town Finances and Ex-East Hampton Budget Chief Pleads Guilty to Fraud

Audit of King County Sheriff's Office ordered to 'seek every efficiency possible' (WA...$140 million deficit)

Butler County Loses Half Of Patrol Force In 18 Months (Ohio)

New York State Government Is 'Dysfunctional,' 83% Tell Pollster

Roads crumble, Richmond fiddles (Virginia)

Three-quarters of defined-benefit pension schemes in red (Ireland)

Treasury Dept. approves plans to provide $1.5B in housing aid to Calif., Fla., 3 other states

Fed Won’t Change Rate Until 2012 on Labor Woes, McKelvey Says

Supply is High as Shadow Inventory Looms

Belarus threatens European gas (Video)

Gulf spill hits NY fish market (Video)

Air fares may skyrocket (Video)

saxplayer00o1's picture
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Re: Daily Digest - June 23

"The phone call was short and to the point: A buyer who had agreed to spend $500,000 (U.S.) on a beachfront home with a stunning view of the Gulf of Mexico was backing out.

The cancelled sale was a blow to real estate agent Linda Henderson, but it wasn’t a surprise. Globs of thick, pungent oil are washing up on the shores of Alabama’s Dauphin Island, and the smell on some days is enough to drive the island’s predominantly senior population back into their homes.

It’s also enough to drive real estate agents to despair. “I can tell you that things have pretty much dropped to dead,” she says. “We were on track for our best year since Katrina. This is devastating – you can say that the spill killed the real estate recovery.”"

"People who buy their own health insurance have been hit lately with premium hikes that far exceed increases in premiums for employer-sponsored coverage, according to a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The nonprofit foundation, which is separate from health insurer Kaiser Permanente, said recent premium hikes requested by insurers for individual coverage averaged 20 percent. Some customers were able to switch plans and pay less, so people paying on their own actually wound up paying 13 percent more on average."

"“Even more outrageous, we have discovered 17 Illinois State Police employees retired at age 50 and now have lavish pensions greater than $100,000 per year. A fifty year-old state cop with a $100,000 pension, including a 3% automatic annual increase, will receive more than $5 million in pension payments over his 31 year life expectancy, despite contributing only about $200,000 in pension payments.”"


Growing Numb to Crises: Don’t Let it Happen to You (Mcalvanyweekly...audio)

Pensacola Beach - Oil and Tar Washing Over My Feet June 23 2010 (Video)

NY pension fund to sue BP for investment loss ("the fund owned more than 19 million shares when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded")

(rjs....here's the link you refer to in comment #3)

rjs's picture
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Re: Daily Digest - June 23

the weather channel said the oil containment cap, whatever that is, was hit by a sub and has come off...i can find no confirmation on the web (google news search)

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Re: Daily Digest - June 23
rjs wrote:

the weather channel said the oil containment cap, whatever that is, was hit by a sub and has come off...i can find no confirmation on the web (google news search)


WASHINGTON — Oil gushed unchecked Wednesday from the leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico after BP's containment system was removed for repairs following a submarine crash, US officials said.

"We had an incident earlier today, they noticed that there was some kind of a gas rising," said Admiral Thad Allen, the US official coordinating the response to the disaster.

rjs's picture
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Re: Daily Digest - June 23

mark and saxplayer, thanx for the links...

latest news is now a 5.5 earthquake near ottawa...

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Re: Daily Digest - June 23

Yup. I sure felt that one here in Ottawa! First time I've felt anything that big. Pretty freaky!



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Re: Daily Digest - June 23
rjs wrote:

the weather channel said the oil containment cap, whatever that is, was hit by a sub and has come off...i can find no confirmation on the web (google news search)

An undersea accident has forced BP to shut down a key system collecting oil from its blown-out Gulf of Mexico well, unleashing a torrent of oil, the top US oil spill official said.


A containment cap that had been channelling over 16,000 barrels per day to a surface vessel was removed after an undersea robot apparently collided with it, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said at a news briefing in Washington.

He said the system could restart later on Wednesday local time.

Mr Allen said the flow of oil from the well was not completely unchecked. Some was still being burned off on the surface.

Mr Allen also reported two deaths of workers helping with the oil spill response. The deaths did not appear work-related but were under investigation, he said.

A team of US scientists estimates the leak is spewing up to 60,000 barrels a day.

The disaster prompted the Obama administration to slap a six-month ban on all new deepsea drilling while it sought to improve safety procedures on other rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

While BP struggled to restart its oil collection operation, the US government said it would impose a more flexible ban on new deepwater drilling, a day after a federal judge overturned an initial moratorium as too broad.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar also said initial investigations showed "reckless conduct" in the days leading up to the April 20 explosion on an offshore oil rig that ruptured BP's Gulf of Mexico well.

Mr Salazar told a congressional hearing in Washington he would reissue the drilling ban.

He did not indicate when he would issue the revised order, but suggested it could allow oil companies to drill in certain low-risk areas.

"We will in the weeks and months ahead take a look at how it is that the moratorium in place might be refined," he said.

He did not elaborate on his observation that he believed reckless behaviour was involved in the April 20 rig blast in which 11 workers were killed, and he did not point the finger at any particular company.

US politicians, however have accused BP of cutting corners and putting savings over safety. The company leased the rig from Transocean and was a part owner in the ruptured well with Anadarko.

The criticism has fuelled investor fears about BP's future and its stock has tumbled since the April 20 spill, losing half its value and trading at levels not seen since 1996.

In another problem for the British company, New York State's pension fund, a BP investor, has threatened to sue over the halving of its stock price since the start of the 65-day-old crisis.

The oil slick, which consists of hundreds of thousands of patches of crude, has shut down rich fishing grounds, killed hundreds of turtles and seabirds and dozens of dolphins. It has also soiled the coastline in four US states.


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Re: Daily Digest - June 23


Historically, the U.S., Japan, and Europe (with the exception of Germany) have all opted for a Keynesian approach to counteracting depression. In other words, they prefer to spend their way to prosperity; running big budget deficits during difficult economic times. Politicians find it much easier to promise gifts to voters than to take them away. Because of this truism, we expect much more quantitative easing (QE) or money printing.



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Re: Daily Digest - June 23

Riz Khan - Europe's age of austerity

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Re: Daily Digest - June 23

It's been awhile since I posted here...it's a big internet and such quite alot of events are happening.

But I remember this website as the first to slake a thirst for honest knowledge that had been raging for years.    This website was one of those rare places back in the day that held that facts are imuttable and inescapable.  I do sense changes in behavior are starting.  I believe the US is entering the third phase of change (you remember, 1.Ridicule 2. Questioning 3. Held as self evident.) 

The Death of The Rant is happening now. 


And I just wanted to stop by and thank CM and the crew here.  A job well done...and it's not finished yet!

~ Bikemonkey

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Re: Daily Digest - June 23


Speaking for many on this site, we thank you for all your efforts.  This is my one-stop-shopping website.  You are part of the reason this website is so successful.



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Erik T.
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Re: Daily Digest - June 23
Nate wrote:


Speaking for many on this site, we thank you for all your efforts.  This is my one-stop-shopping website.  You are part of the reason this website is so successful.



Also, Sax, I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate it when you include guidance like "Don't miss this one" in your comments. I value your judgment and always stop and follow the link when you include a comment that it is especially deserving of attention.

THanks again and keep up the fantastic work!


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Re: Daily Digest - June 23

Thanks Nate and Eric.


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