Ebola hasn’t jumped the shark after all

by Dawn Pennington on November 17, 2014

The fact that Ebola all but disappeared from U.S. news after the midterm elections is not lost on me.

And as a former Washingtonian, I admit I was wondering whether the recent arrival of Dr. Martin Salia in Omaha was orchestrated to put this highly fatal disease back on our collective radars.

For a while I wondered whether Google (GOOGL) and other search engine providers asking for donations for Ebola-ravaged countries meant the disease had finally jumped the shark.

And then Band-Aid, well, rebanded to raise money for Ebola, which should benefit now that Dr. Salia died from Ebola. And it’s unsettling.

The most unsettling part?

As CBS News reported …

“Salia, a Sierra Leone citizen who lived in Maryland, first showed Ebola symptoms on Nov. 6 but tested negative for the virus. He eventually tested positive on Nov. 10.”

Just think, had he been diagnosed and treated FOUR DAYS earlier, Dr. Salia might be alive today.

Obviously a Molotov cocktail of meds served up too late can’t reverse the kidney damage and full organ shutdown that Ebola causes. But at least we know drugs do work, given that we have survivors to speak of. Mapp Biopharmaceutical, which makes the coveted, experimental ZMapp drug, is still victims’ best shot.

Clearly the fight isn’t over just because we aren’t seeing it as much anymore. Maybe Band-Aid is just what we need right now. I’ll be buying the single since it’s all I can do. I hope you do too.

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Well that doesn’t sound too promising

by Dawn Pennington on November 14, 2014

From Yahoo! Finance …

The market has done this just 4 times in the last 20 years

“The S&P 500 has closed above its five-day moving average for 20 consecutive days. That has only happened just three times before in the last two decades.”

Sounds good, right?

Well, not so much.

“The S&P 500 has had just seven prior streaks above its five-day moving average lasting 18 days or more. And those … averaged losses four and six weeks after ending.”

It’s been a record-breaking year, but it’s also been a bit of a unique one as well. So while I think any pause we get will indeed be one that refreshes, I also don’t see the markets tanking going into year-end.

Seasonality is still our friend and I think we’ll see Santa Claus arriving — if not immediately after the Thanksgiving Day parade — then definitely right on schedule before year-end.

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Time for an Ebola Reality Check

by Dawn Pennington on October 17, 2014

Just seven months ago, Ebola was "just" a disease in its outbreak stages in Africa. Now it’s an epidemic affecting healthcare workers, airline passengers and others halfway across the globe who never should have been exposed.

Today, we’re getting news that former vice presidential chief of staff Ron Klain is up for the role of Ebola "czar" as this potential pandemic continues to unfold on our shores.

The question we face — as researchers, travelers, investors and individuals who happen to like being around other people — is whether the Ebola infection fears are overblown … or whether we aren’t worried enough.

Consider that Dallas healthcare workers Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, who were supposedly at "low risk" of catching Ebola, are now fighting the deadly disease in Maryland and Atlanta, respectively.

Meanwhile one of their colleagues who handled Ebola lab specimens quarantined herself on a cruise ship this week … despite showing no signs of the illness.

This tells us it’s time for a reality check about this epidemic.

Your Uncommon Wisdom Daily team has been closely following the news and clocking extra research hours to bring you the timeliest, most accurate information we can find. We never want you to make a decision about your financial health out of fear, and the same goes for your personal well-being.

Here’s what we’ve uncovered so far …

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Ebola: What You Need to Know

What makes Ebola different and much more dangerous is its sophisticated ability to bypass the dendritic cells undetected and shut off their “alarm system.”

This leaves the immune system clueless, and therefore no antibodies are made to combat the Ebola virus.

In the end, it’s not the Ebola virus that kills its victim. It’s actually his or her own immune system in the form of something called a “cytokine storm.” Continue reading …

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Is the CDC Any Better Than FEMA?

Amber Vinson actually flew on an airliner from Dallas to Cleveland. She took her temperature before boarding the flight home, noticed a slight fever, and called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to seek advice.

The CDC failed to advise Nurse Vinson to stay off the plane. So now, hundreds of other people who were on the plane with her, or flew the same plane on subsequent flights, are at risk.

That the U.S. government, with every possible power and resource at its disposal, allowed this to happen is embarrassing. No wonder people are comparing the CDC’s Ebola response to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s inept performance when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. Continue reading …

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My 2 Biggest Fears About Ebola

An estimated 22,000 people are infected at this point in time. By the time you finish reading this article, 500 to 750 people could become infected (assuming the infection rate doesn’t accelerate).

Currently, WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are not mathematically discussing how the increasing number of infections could multiply the speed with which Ebola spreads throughout Africa and the world.

It’s entirely possible that, by New Year’s Eve, 250,000 people will come into direct contact with this disease that kills 9 out of 10 of those infected.

And that’s not even the scariest part. Continue reading …

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All About the Fed Today …

by Dawn Pennington on September 17, 2014

At 2:00 p.m. EDT the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) comes down from the mountain to update investors on current policy and then Federal Reserve Chair Yellen speaks at 2:30 p.m. EDT. Wall Street opinions about this update and future updates is wide, which could surprise markets. FOMC

Yesterday markets moved on the webcast from Wall Street Journal reporter Jon Hilsenrath, who opined that the FOMC will keep the words “considerable time” in its policy statement and qualify that phrase instead of removing it. The other focus of the meeting will be on the bond program exit strategy. Hilsenrath

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On Friday I wrote about the trucking industry, specifically how companies like Swift Transportation ($SWFT) are having a tough time filling openings.

Several readers wrote in, and I will be sharing some of their thoughts in today’s Uncommon Wisdom Daily Afternoon Edition. But I wanted to post this letter in its entirety for your consideration.

Reader Dave B. makes a lot of great points below …

The driver shortage has actually been around for well over 20 years now.

I worked in the industry for over 53 years and was, basically, forcefully retired 2 years ago with more than 5 million miles in a truck.  I have been an employee, owner/operator and also owned my own trucking company from 1999 to 2003.

Wages and time at home have always been a problem, especially for long haul drivers.  Then there are the idiotic government regulations which are made by people that have absolutely no knowledge of the industry.

Large companies like Swift, C.R. England and others are at fault as well as unions and enforcement on state levels, all putting the drivers welfare and livelihood at risk.

Everyone talks about doing this or that to improve safety when in fact it is all about state revenues from enforcement, then to shippers/consignees getting free labor from the drivers while at the same time causing lost hours waiting at docks to load/unload.

When you look at ALL hours that a long haul driver spends on the job actual wages are far below minimum wage.

As to freight contracts those are generally only used by the large companies giving rate payers a much lower rate in exchange for volume, which also keeps the smaller companies out of competition because they can’t operate on the smaller margin.

Contracts, however, generally do not cover more than a year or two at a time and contain all kinds of conditions to increase rates to maintain profit for the trucking company, but the drivers and other employees always suffer under the system.

There are a lot of things going on in the industry not known or realized by those not within the system and most outsiders would probably be very surprised what goes on if they were to learn of it.

Talk to any long time driver that has worked in different aspects of the industry and you will walk away after the conversation shaking your head and in utter disbelief of what you have heard, or why drivers put up with it.

Drivers, myself included, have fault in this as well because they won’t fight the companies regarding wages, benefits and home time as they are mostly afraid of being fired and blacklisted (yes that still exists), so they just job hop looking for a company that may offer something better which seldom works out for the driver as the companies, or their recruiters, lie and give all sorts of promises to drivers to get them to sign on and fill their empty truck seats.

If a driver doesn’t have many years in the industry, and are still young enough, usually will leave and take other types of work with better pay and a lot less hassle and regulatory overburden.

I’ll bet you could make an award winning article out of this if you WERE interested enough to investigate it and were able to get it published by main stream news agencies.

Just a thought there.

Hope I was able to give you a small bit of education about trucking by writing this.

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Want some fries with those fries?

by Dawn Pennington on July 28, 2014

McDonald’s (MCD), Starbucks (SBUX) and Yum! Brands (YUM) are still feeling the indigestion after being the lucky recipients of expired meat products from Shanghai Husi. In fact, some McDonald’s stores are only serving fries and drinks until the company makes a deal with a new meat supplier for its China-based stores.

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Via Reuters: PayPal signs “ten of thousands” customers in Nigerian launch

“PayPal entered Nigeria and 10 other nations last month, providing online payment alternatives for consumers via mobile phones or PCs in markets often blighted by financial fraud. The new markets bring the number of countries PayPal serves to 203.”

The article goes on to say that online purchases are expected to reach $1 billion this year.

Now, I’m always happy to hear about progress in emerging markets. But it’s going to take a decade-long PR campaign on South Africa’s part to convince the Western world to not double-take at this news and immediately check to see whether it’s an Onion article.

In any case, I hope this move works out well for PayPal/eBay, and I hope it brings the prosperity to that region that it so desperately needs.

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A cyber-stickup!

by Dawn Pennington on July 9, 2014

Getting a PC virus costs you time and money to get it fixed. But now, the new trend is that you have the option of paying right away to get your files back.

Even though only a small percentage of people paid the “ransom” to regain access to their files, data bandits recently made off with $4 million from people who paid up when prompted.

As this CNN Money article says, “Ransomware is here to stay.”

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Obama attacks the banks

by Geoff Garbacz on July 3, 2014

President Obama cannot help commenting on how much money individuals make in America. This morning in an interview with American Public Media’s Marketplace radio program, he criticizes the bonus culture of financial trading desks at Wall Street banks.

Hint to the President: Trading desks HAD NOTHING TO DO with the financial crisis of 2007-’09. Attacking The Banks

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That’s one way to get a vacation

by Dawn Pennington on July 1, 2014

China sends dissidents on free holidays during major government events, complete with police escorts to make sure they don’t come back too soon.

Oh, and did I mention these sojourns are first-class, all-expenses-paid by the Chinese government?

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