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It’s WAR On The Streets Of America

It's War On The Streets of AmericaMake no mistake – there is now a state of open warfare on the streets of America.  Earlier this year it was being reported that the number of police officers killed on the job was up 40 percent in 2014, and that was before all of the civil unrest caused by the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.  At this point, attacks on police officers are becoming a frequent occurrence all over the country, but no incident has stunned the nation as much as the “execution-style” murder of two NYPD officers on Saturday by a radical Islamic gunman identified as Ismaaiyl Brinsley.  Just prior to the attack, Brinsley posted a message on Instagram in which he declared that he was “putting wings on pigs today”.  Many would like to dismiss this as an “isolated incident” and pretend that everything is just fine in America, but that is not the truth.  The reality of the matter is that anti-police sentiment in this country is at an all-time high, and the level of anger and frustration in our increasingly radicalized urban communities has reached a boiling point.  As economic conditions continue to deteriorate and police tactics become even more brutal in the years ahead, the kind of rioting, looting and senseless violence that we witnessed in Ferguson is going to become commonplace in major cities all over the United States.

The mainstream media and many national leaders on the left end of the spectrum have been stirring up strife and division for months on end.  So now a toxic environment has been created which is inevitably going to lead to even more violence.  At some recent “protest marches”, we have heard demonstrators enthusiastically chant extremely threatening slogans such as this: “What do we want? Dead cops!”  And when news broke that Ismaaiyl Brinsley had brutally murdered two NYPD police officers, lots of very twisted people on Twitter were actually celebrating.

We are moving into a period of time when it is going to be extraordinarily difficult to be a police officer in America.  I couldn’t even imagine going to work every day knowing that you could become the next target at any time.

Yes, there have been lots of abuses.  In fact, I have written dozens of articles about the emerging Big Brother police state in America.  In many areas of the country today, our police officers are actually being trained to be physically brutal, to bark orders at ordinary citizens and to treat everyone around them like dirt.  This culture of brutality and oppression filters down from the very top, and so ultimately the root of the problem is at the federal level.

But most police officers that are serving our local communities are just average people trying to do their jobs.  Without the police, crime would be wildly out of control.  So I am very thankful for the police in my local area.  I sleep better at night knowing that they are there.

And the reality of the matter is that we have made their jobs so much tougher.  Thanks to unchecked illegal immigration, there are now approximately 1.4 million members of criminal gangs living in our cities.  And the Obama administration is allowing the UN to import thousands of Muslim radicals to communities all over the nation.  The police have to deal with well-armed threats that they simply did not have to face 40 or 50 years ago.  Our society is becoming increasingly unstable, and the police have to contend with the bleeding edge of that instability day after day.

So Ismaaiyl Brinsley did not appear out of a vacuum.  Even though the mainstream media is playing this angle down, the truth is that Ismaaiyl Brinsley was probably a member of an extremely violent criminal gang, and he was most definitely a radical Muslim.

According to his Facebook page, Brinsley spoke Arabic, and he also posted extreme passages from the Koran.  The following is one example…

ismaaiyl-brinsley-facebook

And as I mentioned above, his most famous message on social media was actually shared on Instagram…

ismaaiyl-brinsley-instagram-post

But Brinsley was not just a Muslim radical.  According to Aaron Klein of WND, there is also evidence that he was a member of a particularly violent gang known as the Black Guerilla Family…

The gang to which NYPD cop killer Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley may have belonged, the Black Guerilla Family, is allied with U.S. leftist groups and worked as an ideological partner with Bill Ayers’ Weather Underground terrorist organization.

Apparently, this gang dominated the prison where Brinsley once spent time…

The New York Daily News reported investigators went to Baltimore to probe Brinsley’s ties to the Black Guerrilla Family, which dominates the Maryland prison where Brinsley spent time. The BGF is an African-American Marxist revolutionary organization that seeks the overthrow of the U.S. government.

Numerous Baltimore media outlets confirmed law-enforcement officials are probing the BGF link.

And is it just a coincidence that the FBI issued a memo on Friday warning that the BGF was targeting “white cops”?

On Friday, the Baltimore FBI office issued a memo that the Black Guerrilla Family gang was targeting “white cops” in Maryland, an agency spokeswoman confirmed. The memo, circulating among officers, said a contact who had given reliable information in the past said members of the gang — connected to the high-profile corruption scandal at the Baltimore City Detention Center — were planning to target white officers to “send a message.”

There are a lot more radicals out there just like Brinsley.

And thanks to the toxic environment that now exists in this country, it is inevitable that there will be a lot more violence.

As this war escalates, we could eventually see pandemonium in major cities from coast to coast.

If you are not convinced that this is a war, perhaps you should heed the words of the NYPD’s union.  The following is an excerpt from an alert that was just released

Starting IMMEDIATELY: At least two units are to respond to EVERY call, no matter the condition or severity, no matter what type of job is pending, or what the opinion of the patrol supervisor happens to be.

IN ADDITION: Absolutely NO enforcement action in the form of arrests and or summonses is to be taken unless absolutely necessary and an individual MUST be placed under arrest.

These are precautions that were taken in the 1970’s when police officers were ambushed and executed on a regular basis.

The mayor’s hands are literally dripping with our blood because of his words actions and policies and we have, for the first time in a number of years, become a ‘wartime’ police department. We will act accordingly.

Sadly, I believe that they are right.

In fact, if it wasn’t for an empty gun, a third NYPD police officer would have lost his life this past weekend…

A third cop narrowly escaped with his life Saturday night when a suspect pointed a gun directly at the officer’s head and pulled the trigger in The Bronx — not realizing it was empty.

Cops went to East 140th Street in Mott Haven at 9 p.m. on reports of a man shooting out windows with a .357 caliber revolver.

They spotted the suspect, identified as Raymond Leonardo, 18, and ordered him to drop the gun. Instead, he took point blank aim at one of the officers, officials said.

When the gun didn’t work, he put it in his pocket and ran. Cops tackled him a few blocks away.

Something has fundamentally shifted in this country.

I fear that this is only just the beginning of the war on the streets of America.

Hopefully I am wrong.

But I don’t believe that I am.

So what do you think?

Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…

There Is Hope In Understanding That A Great Economic Collapse Is Coming

Hope Despair - Public DomainIf you were about to take a final exam, would you have more hope or more fear if you didn’t understand any of the questions and you had not prepared for the test at all?  I think that virtually all of us have had dreams where we show up for an exam that we have not studied for.  Those dreams can be pretty terrifying.  And of course if you were ever in such a situation in real life, you probably did very, very poorly on that test.  The reason I have brought up this hypothetical is to make a point.  My point is that there is hope in understanding what is ahead of us, and there is hope in getting prepared.  Since I started The Economic Collapse Blog back in 2009, there have always been a few people that have accused me of spreading fear.  That frustrates me, because what I am actually doing is the exact opposite of that.  When a hurricane is approaching, is it “spreading fear” to tell people to board up their windows?  Of course not.  In fact, you just might save someone’s life.  Or if you were walking down the street one day and you saw someone that wasn’t looking and was about to step out into the road in front of a bus, what would the rational thing to do be?  Anyone that has any sense of compassion would yell out and warn that other person to stay back.  Yes, that other individual may be startled for a moment, but in the end you will be thanked warmly for saving that person from major injury or worse.  Well, as a nation we are about to be slammed by the hardest times that any of us have ever experienced.  If we care about those around us, we should be sounding the alarm.

Since 2009, I have published 1,211 articles on the coming economic collapse on my website.  Some people assume that I must be filled with worry, bitterness and fear because I am constantly dealing with such deeply disturbing issues.

But that is not the case at all.

There is nothing that I lose sleep over, and I don’t spend my time worrying about anything.  Yes, my analysis of the global financial system has completely convinced me that an absolutely horrific economic collapse is in our future.  But understanding what is happening helps me to calmly make plans for the years ahead, and working hard to prepare for what is coming gives me hope that my family and I will be able to weather the storm.

I do not believe in living my life in a state of fear, and I do not want anything that I write to ever cause fear in my readers.  The ancient Hebrew greeting “Shalom” is roughly translated as “peace” or “completeness”, and that is what we are constantly pursuing in my household.  My wife and I know that incredibly challenging times are coming, but we also know who we are, what our purpose is, and where we are headed.  We also believe that the greatest chapters of our lives are ahead even in the midst of all the chaos that is coming.

When times are the darkest, that is when light is needed the most.  Just think about it.  When you look back over history, what heroes do you admire the most?  If you truly think about it, almost all of those heroes arose during times of great adversity and conflict.

The years ahead can be a time of great adventure for you, or they can seem like hell on Earth.  It all depends on how you respond to your circumstances.

Do you want to know who is going to respond to the years ahead with fear, panic and depression?

The millions of people that have absolutely no idea what is coming and have made absolutely no preparations are going to be absolutely blindsided by the coming economic collapse.  Just like the 1930s, we are going to see people jumping out of windows and jumping in front of trains.  Others will sink into a state of despair so deep that nobody will ever be able to shake them out of it.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Over the past five years I have spent thousands of hours studying the coming economic collapse.  In my articles you can find tens of thousands of facts and statistics that prove that the U.S. economy is hurtling toward oblivion.

It is not always the most pleasant thing to write about, but it is the truth.  And that is what matters.  If you believe that I am wrong, prove it to me.  I work very hard to put out the most accurate information that I possibly can.  So if you can prove that I am wrong, I will change my mind.

But of course that is not going to happen.  As I have stated previously, anyone with half a brain should be able to see that we are living in the greatest debt bubble in human history.  Anyone with half a brain should be able to see that the “too big to fail” banks are being extraordinarily reckless (derivatives, etc.).  Anyone with half a brain should be able to see that our formerly great manufacturing cities are being transformed into crime-infested hellholes.  Anyone with half a brain should be able to see that the middle class is dying.  Anyone with half a brain should be able to see that the exact same patterns that led up to the great financial crisis of 2008 are happening again.  Anyone with half a brain should be able to see that we simply cannot consume far more wealth than we produce as a nation indefinitely.  Anyone with half a brain should be able to see that the incredibly foolish decisions that our politicians have been making for decades have placed us on a road to utter disaster.

So it doesn’t take anyone special to do what I am doing.  I am just a “watchman on the wall” sounding the alarm the best that I can.  And there are lots of others that are doing the same thing.  We are deeply concerned about where this nation is heading, and we have been pleading with our leaders to do something about it for a long time but they have not listened to us.

Since our leaders just continue doing “business as usual”, there is not going to be a solution to our problems on the national level.

So that is why I am encouraging people to get prepared for the hard times that are coming on a family level and a community level.

Unfortunately, it seems like some people always have an excuse for not getting prepared.  In fact, a few have even gone so far as to accuse me of being “anti-faith” for suggesting that people actually get off their couches and do something to help their families deal with the nightmare on the horizon.  They seem to have the attitude that we should all just sit back and wait for God to do everything for us.

So I am not quite sure why those people get up in the morning and go to work, since they should just “trust God” to deposit paychecks into their banks.  And I am not quite sure why they ever fill up the tanks of their vehicles with gasoline, because they should be able to “trust God” to put more gas there when they need it.

I covered all of this in much more detail in my previous article entitled “Is It ‘Anti-Faith’ To Prepare For The Coming Economic Collapse?

For now, let me just state that what those people are suggesting is the exact opposite of what the Bible teaches.  Trusting God is not about sitting back and doing nothing.  In the Scriptures, we are told that faith is about stepping out and taking action on what God has revealed to us.  That includes working hard, being wise and providing for our families.  For example, just check out Proverbs 6:6-11…

Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise. Which, having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provides her bread in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.

How long will you sleep, O sluggard? When will you arise out of your sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep— so will your poverty come upon you like a stalker, and your need as an armed man.

In the end, each one of us needs to make the decisions that we feel are best for our own families.

So that is why it is so incredibly important not to let someone else do your thinking for you.

In America today, the average person watches 153 hours of television a month.  In addition to that, we also spend countless hours watching movies, playing video games, listening to music, reading books and surfing the Internet.

What most Americans don’t realize is that there are just six giant corporations that control almost all of that content, and that makes them immensely powerful.

These giant media corporations are constantly manipulating our attitudes, opinions and beliefs.  And at this point most Americans seem quite content to remain “plugged into the matrix” and to allow corrupt corporate executives somewhere to do their thinking for them.

I urge you to break free from that system.

Do your own research and do your own thinking.

Don’t take what I say or what anyone else says as truth without critically examining it yourself.  This can be difficult at first, because in this nation our young people are no longer trained to think critically.  Instead, we are trained to just blindly accept whatever information the system feeds us.

George Orwell once said that “during times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act“.

That perfectly describes the era that we are currently living in.

The truth does not bring fear and despair.

Rather, the truth brings hope and it sets people free.

Share the truth with as many people as you can, because we live in a world that desperately needs it.

How Did Christmas Become A Festival Of Greed?

Christmas Gifts - Christmas Greed - Public DomainFor most people, Christmas is all about the presents. But how did such a supposedly sacred holiday become a festival of greed? Not many people know the history behind Christmas gift giving, and it will probably shock you. This year, Americans will spend somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 billion dollars on Christmas, but most people have no coherent explanation for why they are buying all of these gifts. Those that are Christian will tell you that they are doing it to celebrate the birth of Christ, but as you will see below, gift giving on this holiday originated long before Christ was born. Others will tell you that they are just following tradition, but most of them have absolutely no idea where the tradition of Christmas gift giving originally came from. And the truth is that most people simply don’t care about the history. They are just excited about all of the stuff that they are going to get on December 25th. But if you are curious to learn how Christmas became a festival of greed, just keep reading…

In early America, there was no Christmas gift giving. In fact, the Puritans greatly disapproved of celebrating the holiday, and in some areas the celebration of Christmas was actually banned by law.

For example, if you were caught celebrating Christmas in the state of Massachusetts from 1659 to 1681 you could be fined five shillings

On May 11, 1659, the Massachusetts Bay Colony legislature even went so far as to officially ban Christmas and gave anyone found celebrating it a fine of five shillings. The legislature stated the ban was needed For preventing disorders arising in severall places within this jurisdiceon, by reason of some still observing such festivalls as were superstitiously kept in other countrys, to the great dishonnor of God & offence of others, it is therefore ordered … that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by for-bearing of labour, feasting, or any other way, upon any such account as aforesaid, every such person so offending shall pay for every such offence five shillings, as a fine to the county.

The ban remained in place for 22 years until it was repealed in 1681 after a new surge of European immigrants brought a demand for the holiday. Even though the ban was lifted, Christmas was not warmly embraced by the puritans and it remained a dull and muted holiday over two centuries later.

But weren’t the Puritans Christians?

Didn’t they want to honor the Lord Jesus?

Of course they were Christians. They took their faith incredibly seriously. But they also knew their history a lot better than we do.

Most Christians do not realize this, but Christians did not celebrate anything in late December for the first 300 years after the time of Jesus. The only people that celebrated anything at that time were the pagans.

By now, most of you are probably aware of the great Roman celebration known as Saturnalia. But most people don’t know that our tradition of gift giving can be traced back to that holiday. The following is how Wikipedia describes this ancient pagan festival…

Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honor of the deity Saturn, held on the 17th of December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to the 23rd of December. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves. The poet Catullus called it “the best of days.”

Most people do not realize this, but the priests of Saturn would even carry wreaths of evergreen boughs in procession throughout the pagan Roman temples.  These processions probably looked at least a little bit similar to our Christmas parades today.

So precisely who was Saturn? Here is more from Wikipedia

Saturn (Latin: Saturnus) is a god in ancient Roman religion, and a character in myth. Saturn is a complex figure because of his multiple associations and long history. He was the first god of the Capitol, known since the most ancient times as Saturnius Mons, and was seen as a god of generation, dissolution, plenty, wealth, agriculture, periodic renewal and liberation. In later developments he came to be also a god of time. His reign was depicted as a Golden Age of plenty and peace. The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum housed the state treasury. In December, he was celebrated at what is perhaps the most famous of the Roman festivals, the Saturnalia, a time of feasting, role reversals, free speech, gift-giving and revelry. Saturn the planet and Saturday are both named after the god.

Eventually, the Romans began holding a festival at the end of Saturnalia on December 25th called Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, which means “the birthday of the unconquered sun”.  Throughout the empire, the “rebirth of the sun” was celebrated with great revelry.  The winter solstice was past and now the days were starting to get longer again.  It was a seemingly logical time to honor “the rebirth of the sun god”.

When the Roman Empire legalized Christianity in the early 4th century, the Roman government began to put a lot of pressure on church leaders to fit into the broader society. So eventually the birthday of the Son of God was moved to the time when the rest of society was celebrating “the rebirth of the sun god”.  December 25th was first celebrated as the birthday of Jesus in about 336 AD, and in the year 350 AD Pope Julius I officially decreed that Christians would celebrate that day from then on. At first, the new holiday was slow to be adopted by Christians and it was not widely observed until about the year 400.

And of course Jesus was not actually born in late December.  The evidence that we have indicates that he was most probably born in the fall during the Feast of Tabernacles.  The only reason people celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th today is because the Catholics of the 4th century wanted to appease the pagan Roman government and the pagan culture at large.

Over time, the practice of gift giving during late December faded, and by the early 19th century the big tradition was actually to open presents on New Year’s Day. But then merchants saw an opportunity. According to historians, advertisements for “Christmas presents” began appearing in newspapers in the United States in the 1820s

Buying gifts to celebrate Christmas is steeped in tradition, dating to the 1820s when newspapers began to advertise items for Christmas presents, according to the Connecticut Historical Society.

“This holiday market place is part of the larger birth of the consumer culture that extends itself to all aspects of our social life,” said Leigh Eric Schmidt, author of “Consumer Rites” (Princeton University Press, 1995).

Schmidt, a professor of religion at Princeton University in New Jersey, said if the nation had continued the practice of giving gifts only as mementos for New Year’s, Christmas would not have evolved into the huge retail venture it is today. There would have been more focus on the religious aspects of the holiday. But all that changed when gift-giving became a way to honor family relationships.

And at first, Christmas in America was nothing like the festival of greed that it is today.  Gifts were usually small, modest and personal. The following is one description of the tradition of Christmas gift giving during that era

In the 1820s, ’30s and ’40s merchants had noticed the growing role of gifts in the celebration of Christmas and New Year. Starting in the mid- to late- 1850s, imaginative importers, craftspersons and storekeepers consciously reshaped the holidays to their own ends even as shoppers elevated the place of Christmas gifts in their home holiday. However, for all the efforts of businessmen to exploit the season Americans persistently attempted to separate the influence of commerce from the gifts they gave.

What emerged was a kind of dialogue between consumers and merchants. Many gift-givers, for instance, ranked handmade gifts over purchased or totally manufactured ones. Retailers responded by marketing partially assembled goods to which givers applied the finishing touches. Americans also moderated the relationship between commerce and giving by wrapping the gifts they gave. The custom had once been merely to give a gift unadorned and uncovered, but a present hidden in paper heightened the effect of the gesture, fixing the act of giving to a moment of revelation. Wrapping also helped designate an item as a gift. As gifts came increasingly from stores, factories and homes of cottage labourers, paper and string helped redefine an object to meet its social use. The commercial work comprehended the importance of this symbolic transformation of goods. Grander stores began to wrap gifts purchased from their stock in distinctive, coloured papers, tinsel cords and bright ribbons, as part of their delivery services. Thus, while paper might have blurred a present’s association with commerce in some cases, in others it advertised a material status associated with patronizing the ‘right’ store.

Over time, Christmas gifts came to be associated with a mythical gift giver in cultures all over the globe.

Of course in the United States this mythical gift giver is known as “Santa Claus”, but in other areas of the planet the traditions are very different

Current tradition in several Latin American countries (such as Venezuela and Colombia) holds that while Santa makes the toys, he then gives them to the Baby Jesus, who is the one who actually delivers them to the children’s homes, a reconciliation between traditional religious beliefs and the iconography of Santa Claus imported from the United States.

In South Tyrol (Italy), Austria, Czech Republic, Southern Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Slovakia, and Switzerland, the Christkind (Ježíšek in Czech, Jézuska in Hungarian and Ježiško in Slovak) brings the presents. Greek children get their presents from Saint Basil on New Year’s Eve, the eve of that saint’s liturgical feast. The German St. Nikolaus is not identical with the Weihnachtsmann (who is the German version of Santa Claus / Father Christmas). St. Nikolaus wears a bishop’s dress and still brings small gifts (usually candies, nuts, and fruits) on December 6 and is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht. Although many parents around the world routinely teach their children about Santa Claus and other gift bringers, some have come to reject this practice, considering it deceptive.

This article may upset some people because their Christmas traditions are so deeply cherished.

But there is no reason to be upset.

If you are going to do something, you should know why you are doing it.

Knowing our history empowers us to take control of our lives and to make better decisions.

As a Christian, I never knew any of the history behind Christmas when I was growing up.  So I could never explain the reasons for why I was doing the things that I was doing to others.

And no holiday should ever be a festival of greed.

So whatever you are celebrating this time of the year, make sure it is for the right reasons and not the wrong ones.

The Retail Apocalypse Accelerates: Collapsing Holiday Sales Are A Signal That A Recession Is Coming

Retail Apocalypse - Photo by Justin CozartRetail sales during the four day Thanksgiving weekend were down a whopping 11 percent from last year.  This is a “make or break” time of the year for many retailers, and if things don’t turn around during the coming weeks we could see a tsunami of store closings in January and February.  As you read this article, there is already more than a billion square feet of retail space sitting empty in the United States.  Many have described the ongoing collapse of the retail industry as an “apocalypse”, and this apocalypse appears to be accelerating.  Yes, the shift to online retailers is a significant factor, but as you will see below even online retailers struggled over the holiday weekend.  The sad truth of the matter is that U.S. consumers are tapped out and are drowning in debt at this point, so they simply do not have as much money to spend as they once did.

According to the National Retail Federation, 5.2 percent fewer Americans shopped online or at retail stores over the past weekend.  Those that did shop spent an average of 6.4 percent less money than consumers did last year.

So if less people shopped, and they spent less money on average, that means that total retail sales must have been way down.

And indeed they were.  As the New York Times has reported, total retail sales were down an astounding 11 percent…

Sales, both in stores and online, from Thanksgiving through the weekend were estimated to have dropped 11 percent, to $50.9 billion, from $57.4 billion last year, according to preliminary survey results released Sunday by the National Retail Federation. Sales fell despite many stores’ opening earlier than ever on Thanksgiving Day.

And though many retailers offered the same aggressive discounts online as they did in their stores, the web failed to attract more shoppers or spending over the four-day holiday weekend than it did last year, the group said. The average person who shopped over the weekend spent $159.55 at online retailers, down 10.2 percent from last year.

No wonder there was less violence on Black Friday this year.

Traffic at retailers was way down.

Of course some analysts are trying to put a positive spin on all of this.  For example, the CEO of the National Retail Federation says that this could actually be a sign that the economy is improving

As the WSJ reports, NRF’s CEO Matt Shay attributed the drop to a combination of factors, including the fact that retailers moved promotions earlier this year in attempt to get people out sooner and avoid what happened last year when people didn’t finish their shopping because of bad weather.

Also did we mention the NRF is perpetually cheery and always desperate to put a metric ton of lipstick on a pig? Well, hold on to your hats folks:

He also attributed the declines to better online offerings and an improving economy where “people don’t feel the same psychological need to rush out and get the great deal that weekend, particularly if they expected to be more deals,” he said.

And of course the sprint vs marathon comparisons, such as this one: “The holiday season and the weekend are a marathon not a sprint,” NRF Chief Executive Officer Matthew Shay said on a conference call. Odd how that metaphor is never used when the (seasonally-adjusted) sprint beats the marathoners.

So there you have it: a 11% collapse in retail spending has just been spun as super bullish for the US economy, whereby US consumers aren’t spending because the economy is simply too strong, and the only reason they don’t spend is because they will spend much more later. Or something.

The retail industry is absolutely brutal at this point.  It is flooded with very large competitors that are chasing fewer and fewer disposable dollars.

In order to thrive, retailers need financially healthy consumers.  But over time, U.S. consumers have been getting deeper and deeper into debt.  The chart posted below shows that consumer credit in the United States has doubled since the year 2000…

Consumer Credit 2014

Meanwhile, the long-term trend for real median household income since the year 2000 has been down…

Real Median Household Income 2014

In order for Americans to spend money, they have to make money first.

Unfortunately, the quality of our jobs continues to plummet.

As I have written about previously, 50 percent of all American workers currently make less than $28,031 a year at their jobs.  And here are some more numbers from a report that the Social Security Administration recently released…

-39 percent of American workers made less than $20,000 last year

-52 percent of American workers made less than $30,000 last year

-63 percent of American workers made less than $40,000 last year

-72 percent of American workers made less than $50,000 last year

So in order for a typical American family to bring in $50,000 a year or more both parents usually have to work.

Sometimes they both have to work more than one job.

And with the cost of living constantly rising, family budgets are being squeezed more than ever.  That is why families have less money to spend at retail stores these days.  For even more on the current financial condition of American families, please see my previous article entitled “Are You Better Off This Thanksgiving Than You Were Last Thanksgiving?

It is time for retailers in America to face the fact that economic conditions have fundamentally changed.  U.S. consumers simply are not in as good shape as they used to be.

In addition, online retailers are going to continue to steal sales from traditional retail locations.  This means that more stores are going to close and more retail space is going to be abandoned.

As I mentioned above, more than a billion square feet of retail space is aleady sitting vacant in the United States.  And retail consultant Howard Davidowitz is projecting that up to half of all shopping malls in the U.S. may shut down within the next couple of decades

Within 15 to 20 years, retail consultant Howard Davidowitz expects as many as half of America’s shopping malls to fail. He predicts that only upscale shopping centers with anchors like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus will survive.

In the years ahead, it is going to become normal to see boarded up strip malls and abandoned shopping centers all over the country.

The golden age of retail is over, and now most retailers will have to work incredibly hard to survive the apocalypse that is unfolding right before our eyes.

Did They Want More Violence In Ferguson? 10 ‘Coincidences’ Too Glaring To Ignore

Ferguson Civil Unrest - Photo by LoavesofbreadWas it a conspiracy or was it incompetence?  Those appear to be the only two alternatives that we are left with after the horrific violence that we witnessed in Ferguson on Monday night.  The first round of Ferguson rioting back in August took everyone by surprise, but this time authorities had more than three months to prepare.  They had the ability to control precisely when the grand jury decision would be announced and how many cops and National Guard troops would be deployed on the streets.  But despite all this, the violence in Ferguson on Monday night was even worse than we witnessed back in August.  Either this was a case of almost unbelievable incompetence, or there was someone out there that actually wanted this to happen.  If someone out there is actually trying to provoke more violence in Ferguson, then the rioters are being played like a fiddle.  Most of them have no idea that they could potentially just be pawns in a game that is far larger than they ever imagined.  The only other alternative to explain what we just saw is incompetence on a level that is absolutely laughable.  Something definitely does not smell right about all of this, and let us hope that at some point the American people get the truth.  The following are 10 “coincidences” from Monday night in Ferguson that are too glaring to ignore…

#1 Federal, state and local law enforcement authorities had more than three months to prepare for the violence that would follow the announcement of the grand jury decision.  The mainstream media endlessly hyped this controversy and everyone knew that trouble would be brewing.  But despite an enormous amount of time to prepare, very little was actually done to prevent any violence from happening.

#2 Someone made the decision to make the public announcement about the grand jury decision in the evening.  Anyone involved in law enforcement knows that crowd control is far more difficult after dark.  This also ensured that instead of being tied up with work or school, a maximum number of protesters would be able to be involved in the violence.

#3 Fortunately for the mainstream media, the announcement of the grand jury decision was perfectly timed to provide the largest possible number of prime time viewers for the big news networks.

#4 Just like back in August, no law enforcement authorities of any kind responded while dozens of businesses were vandalized, looted and set of fire.

#5 According to Ferguson Mayor James Knowles, National Guard troops were purposely held back from intervening in the rioting that was unleashed when the grand jury decision was made known to the public…

In a press conference, he called the delay “deeply concerning” and said the Guard troops were available but were not deployed when city officials asked.

The troops had been readied last week by Gov. Jay Nixon as the grand jury announcement neared. But as gunshots rang out in the night and looters torched buildings, they were nowhere to be seen.

#6 It is being reported that the heavily armed National Guard troops were limited to “keeping the peace at a courthouse, patrolling the outskirts of town and preventing disturbances in other suburbs” as horrific violence raged in the heart of Ferguson on Monday night.

#7 Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder has accused Missouri Governor Jay Nixon of holding back the National Guard troops because of pressure from the Obama administration.  On Monday night, he angrily made the following statement to Fox News…

“Is the reason that the National Guard was not in there because the Obama Administration and the Holder Justice Department leaned on you to keep them out? I cannot imagine any other reason why the governor who mobilized the National Guard would not have them in there to stop this.”

#8 The Washington Post has documented that Attorney General Eric Holder had been in direct contact with Governor Nixon and had expressed “frustration” with the fact that the National Guard had been activated…

A top aide to Holder called the governor’s office earlier this week to express Holder’s displeasure and “frustration,” according to a Justice Department official.

“Instead of de-escalating the situation, the governor escalated it,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the subject. “He sent the wrong message. The tone of the press conference was counterproductive.”

#9 Firefighters in Ferguson did not immediately respond to calls to put out the multiple fires that were set by protesters.  As a result, many businesses essentially burned to the ground.  But this did make for some amazing television footage.

#10 In the worst of the “war zones”, journalists with cameras and microphones were crawling all over the place while there were hardly any police to be seen at all.  How is it possible that law enforcement could have failed so badly?  Could it be possible that this was orchestrated on purpose?

Sadly, as I have written about previously, the civil unrest that we are witnessing in Ferguson is just a small preview of what is coming to America.

The anger and frustration that are seething under the surface in this country have reached a boiling point.  Instead of coming together, we are seemingly more divided than ever.  Americans have been trained to hate one another, fear one another and blame one another.  I fear that we are not too far away from actually becoming ungovernable.

And when the next major wave of the economic crisis strikes and we start experiencing real suffering in this nation, the temper tantrums that we are going to witness in our major cities are going to make what is happening in Ferguson right now look like a Sunday picnic.

So buckle up and hold on, because it is going to be a really bumpy ride from here on out.

Ferguson is not the end – it is just the beginning of a horrible new chapter in American history.

Obamacare = A Death Panel For The U.S. Economy

Obamacare LineDid you know that some Americans are being hit with health insurance rate increases of more than 500 percent?  Taking advantage of “the stupidity of the American voter”, the Democrats succeeded in ramming through one of the worst pieces of legislation that has ever come before Congress.  The full implementation of Obamacare has been repeatedly delayed, but now we are finally starting to see the true horror of this terrible law.  Thanks to Obamacare, millions of American families are losing health plans that they were very happy with, health insurance rates are skyrocketing, millions of workers are having their full-time hours cut back to part-time hours, rural hospitals all over the country are dying, and thousands of doctors are being driven out of the industry thus intensifying the greatest doctor shortage in U.S. history.  Obamacare is a slow-motion train wreck of epic proportions, and the full effect of this law is only beginning to be felt.  In the end, the economic impact of this law will likely be measured in the trillions of dollars.

One of the primary reasons why Democrats experienced so much pain during the recent elections was because millions of Americans are receiving some very disturbing letters from their health insurance providers.  At a time when U.S. incomes are stagnating, health insurance rates are rising to absolutely ridiculous levels.

As the New York Times recently reported, even the Obama administration is admitting that “substantial price increases” are on the way…

The Obama administration on Friday unveiled data showing that many Americans with health insurance bought under the Affordable Care Act could face substantial price increases next year — in some cases as much as 20 percent — unless they switch plans.

The data became available just hours before the health insurance marketplace was to open to buyers seeking insurance for 2015.

An analysis of the data by The New York Times suggests that although consumers will often be able to find new health plans with prices comparable to those they now pay, the situation varies greatly from state to state and even among counties in the same state.

Originally, Barack Obama promised that if we liked our current health plans that we could keep them.  Well, it turns out that was not true at all.  Instead, the vast majority of us will eventually have to move to new plans if we have not done so already.  This is particularly true for those that purchase health insurance individually.  The following is an excerpt from an NBC News investigation

Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC News that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.”

This is something that actually happened to me.  I received a letter in the mail informing me that my new health insurance policy which meets the requirements of Obamacare will cost me nearly twice as much as my old one.

Needless to say, I was not too thrilled about that.

Other Americans are being hit even harder.  For instance, one family down in Texas got hammered with a 539 percent rate increase

Obamacare is named the “Affordable Care Act,” after all, and the President promised the rates would be “as low as a phone bill.” But I just received a confirmed letter from a friend in Texas showing a 539% rate increase on an existing policy that’s been in good standing for years.

As the letter reveals (see below), the cost for this couple’s policy under Humana is increasing from $212.10 per month to $1,356.60 per month. This is for a couple in good health whose combined income is less than $70K — a middle-class family, in other words.

These rate increases are coming at a time when the middle class in the U.S. is already steadily shrinking.  A lot of families that are already stretched to the breaking point are making the very painful decision to give up health insurance entirely.  At this point, there are millions of families that simply cannot afford it.

But Obama is not about to let those people off the hook.  In fact, huge tax penalties are on the way for those that do not participate in the new system…

Penalties for failing to secure a health-insurance plan will rise steeply next year, which could take a big bite out of some families’ pocketbooks.

The penalty is meant to incentivize people to get coverage,” said senior analyst Laura Adams of InsuranceQuotes.com. “This year, I think a lot of people are going to be in for a shock.

In 2014, Obamacare’s first year, individuals are facing a penalty of $95 per person, or 1 percent of their income, depending on which is higher. If an American failed to get coverage this year, that penalty will be taken out of their tax refund in early 2015, Adams noted.

While that might be painful to some uninsured Americans who are counting on their tax refunds in early 2015, the penalty for going uninsured next year is even harsher. The financial penalty for skipping out on health coverage will more than triple to $325 per person in 2015, or 2 percent of income, depending on whichever is higher.

Children will be fined at half the adult rate, or $162.50 for those under 18 years old.

No wonder so many people are so angry with the Democrats.

And as Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Jonathan Gruber has so infamously observed, Obamacare never would have become law if the American people had been told the truth about what it would do to them.

It has been documented that Gruber has visited the White House about a dozen times since 2009, and he has been one of the leading intellectual proponents of Obamacare.  A video in which he states that “the stupidity of the American voter” was “really critical” to the passage of Obamacare has gone viral over the past week.  I have posted a copy of this video below…

What he is essentially saying is that the Democrats purposely deceived the American people because it was the only way that Obamacare was going to become law.

And this is a man that has become very wealthy advising government on healthcare matters.  According to an article in the Washington Post, he has made millions of dollars from “consulting” in recent years…

Not all of the contracts could be found on public Web sites, but here is a sampling. In some cases, Gruber worked with other consultants, so the fees were shared. These figures also might not represent the final payout, and of course these are gross figures, before expenses. But it’s safe to say that about $400,000 appears to be the standard rate for gaining access to the Gruber Microsimulation Model.

Michigan: $481,050

Minnesota: $329,000

Vermont: $400,000

Wisconsin: $400,000

Gruber has also earned more than $2 million over the last seven years for an ongoing contract with HHS to assess choices made by the elderly in Medicare’s prescription-drug plan.

If you are Gruber, life is quite good.

But for most of the rest of America, the economic pain continues.

For example, one recent study found that almost half of all Floridians cannot even afford “to pay for basic necessities”…

Nearly half of Florida households do not earn enough to pay for basic necessities, according to a report released Tuesday by the United Way that seeks to cast a light on the large group of state residents who struggle financially but do not meet the official criteria for being in poverty.

While 15 percent of Florida households are below the poverty level, another 30 percent are financially insecure — a figure that also applies to Sarasota and Manatee counties — based on a new measurement developed by the United Way.

If all those people cannot even afford the basics, how are they going to pay for Obamacare?

This law is going to financially cripple millions of American families.  It truly is a death panel for the U.S. economy.  And because Barack Obama can veto anything that the Republicans in Congress do, we are stuck with it for at least another two years (and probably longer).

So what about you?

Have your health insurance premiums gone up yet?

Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…

24 Reasons Why Millennials Are Screaming Mad About Our Unfair Economy

Angry Woman - Public DomainDo you want to know why Millennials seem so angry?  We promised them that if they worked hard, stayed out of trouble and got good grades that they would be able to achieve the “American Dream”.  We told them not to worry about accumulating very high levels of student loan debt because there would be good jobs waiting for them at the end of the rainbow once they graduated.  Well, it turns out that we lied to them.  Nearly half of all Millennials are spending at least half of their paychecks to pay off debt, more than 30 percent of them are living with their parents because they can’t find decent jobs, and this year the homeownership rate for Millennials sunk to a brand new all-time low.  When you break U.S. adults down by age, our long-term economic decline has hit the Millennials the hardest by far.  And yet somehow we expect them to bear the burden of providing Medicare, Social Security and other social welfare benefits to the rest of us as we get older.  No wonder there is so much anger and frustration among our young people.  The following are 24 reasons why Millennials are screaming mad about our unfair economy…

#1 The current savings rate for Millennials is negative 2 percent.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Not only aren’t Millennials saving any money, they are actually spending a good bit more than they are earning every month.

#2 A survey conducted earlier this year found that 47 percent of all Millennials are using at least half of their paychecks to pay off debt.

#3 For U.S. households that are headed up by someone under the age of 40, average wealth is still about 30 percent below where it was back in 2007.

#4 In 2005, the homeownership rate for U.S. households headed up by someone under the age of 35 was approximately 43 percent.  Today, it is sitting at about 36 percent.

#5 One recent survey discovered that an astounding 31.1 percent of all U.S. adults in the 18 to 34-year-old age bracket are currently living with their parents.

#6 At this point, the top 0.1 percent of all Americans have about as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent of all Americans combined.  Needless to say, there aren’t very many Millennials in that top 0.1 percent.

#7 Since Barack Obama has been in the White House, close to 40 percent of all 27-year-olds have spent at least some time unemployed.

#8 Only about one out of every five 27-year-olds owns a home at this point, and an astounding 80 percent of all 27-year-olds are paying off debt.

#9 In 2013, the ratio of what men in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket were earning compared to what the general population was earning reached an all-time low.

#10 Back in the year 2000, 80 percent of all men in their late twenties had a full-time job.  Today, only 65 percent do.

#11 In 2012, one study found that U.S. families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

#12 Another study released back in 2011 discovered that U.S. households led by someone 65 years of age or older are 47 times wealthier than U.S. households led by someone 35 years of age or younger.

#13 Half of all college graduates in America are still financially dependent on their parents when they are two years out of college.

#14 In 1994, less than half of all college graduates left school with student loan debt.  Today, it is over 70 percent.

#15 At this point, student loan debt has hit a grand total of 1.2 trillion dollars in the United States.  That number has grown by about 84 percent just since 2008.

#16 According to the Pew Research Center, nearly four out of every ten U.S. households that are led by someone under the age of 40 are currently paying off student loan debt.

#17 In 2008, approximately 29 million Americans were paying off student loan debt.  Today, that number has ballooned to 40 million.

#18 Since 2005, student loan debt burdens have absolutely exploded while salaries for young college graduates have actually declined

The problem developing is that earnings and debt aren’t moving in the same direction. From 2005 to 2012, average student loan debt has jumped 35%, adjusting for inflation, while the median salary has actually dropped by 2.2%.

#19 According to CNN, 260,000 Americans with a college or professional degree made at or below the federal minimum wage last year.

#20 Even after accounting for inflation, the cost of college tuition increased by 275 percent between 1970 and 2013.

#21 In the years to come, much of the burden of paying for Medicare for our aging population will fall on Millennials.  It is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.  In addition, it has been estimated that Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately $328,404 for every single household in the United States.

#22 In the years to come, much of the burden of paying for our exploding Medicaid system will fall on Millennials.  Today, more than 70 million Americans are on Medicaid, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

#23 In the years to come, much of the burden of paying for our massive Ponzi scheme known as Social Security will fall on Millennials.  Right now, there are more than 63 million Americans collecting Social Security benefits.  By 2035, that number is projected to soar to an astounding 91 million.  In 1945, there were 42 workers for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits.  Today, that number has fallen to 2.5 workers, and if you eliminate all government workers, that leaves only 1.6 private sector workers for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits.

#24 Our national debt is currently sitting at a grand total of $17,937,617,036,693.09.  It is on pace to roughly double during the Obama years, and Millennials are expected to service that debt for the rest of their lives.

Yes, there are certainly some Millennials that are flat broke because they are lazy and irresponsible.

But there are many others that have tried to do everything right and still find that they can’t get any breaks.  For example, Bloomberg recently shared the story of a young couple named Jason and Jessica Alinen…

The damage inflicted on U.S. households by the collapse of the housing market and recession wasn’t evenly distributed. Just ask Jason and Jessica Alinen.

The couple, who live near Seattle, declared bankruptcy in 2011 when the value of the house they then owned plunged to less than $200,000 from the $349,000 they paid for it four years earlier, just as the economic slump was about to start. Jason even stopped getting haircuts to save money.

“We thought we’d have a white picket fence, two kids, two dogs, and we’d have $100,000 in equity,” said Jason, 33, who does have two children. “It’s just really frustrating.”

Can you identify with them?

Most young Americans just want to work hard, buy a home and start a family.

But for millions of them, that dream might as well be a million miles away right now.

Unfortunately, most of them have absolutely no idea why this has happened.

Many of them end up blaming themselves.  Many of them think that they are not talented enough or that they didn’t work hard enough or that they don’t know the right people.

What they don’t know is that the truth is that decades of incredibly foolish decisions are starting to catch up with us in a major way, and they just happen to be caught in the crossfire.

Sadly, instead of becoming informed about what is happening to our country, a very large percentage of our young people are absolutely addicted to entertainment instead.

Below, I want to share with you a video that I recently came across.  You can find it on YouTube right here.  A student at Texas Tech University recently asked some of her classmates a series of questions.  When they were asked about Brad Pitt or Jersey Shore they knew the answers right away.  But when they were asked who won the Civil War or who the current Vice-President of the United States is, they deeply struggled.  I think that this video says a lot about where we are as a society today…

So what do you think about all of this?

Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…

Most People Cannot Even Imagine That An Economic Collapse Is Coming

Thinking - Public DomainThe idea that the United States is on the brink of a horrifying economic crash is absolutely inconceivable to most Americans.  After all, the economy has been relatively stable for quite a few years and the stock market continues to surge to new heights.  On Friday, the Dow and the S&P 500 both closed at brand new all-time record highs.  For the year, the S&P 500 is now up 9 percent and the Nasdaq is now up close to 11 percent.  And American consumers are getting ready to spend more than 600 billion dollars this Christmas season.  That is an amount of money that is larger than the entire economy of Sweden.  So how in the world can anyone be talking about economic collapse?  Yes, many will concede, we had a few bumps in the road back in 2008 but things have pretty much gotten back to normal since then.  Why be concerned about economic collapse when there is so much stability all around us?

Unfortunately, this brief period of stability that we have been enjoying is just an illusion.

The fundamental problems that caused the financial crisis of 2008 have not been fixed.  In fact, most of our long-term economic problems have gotten even worse.

But most Americans have such short attention spans these days.  In a world where we are accustomed to getting everything instantly, news cycles only last for 48 hours and 2008 might as well be an eternity ago.

In the United States today, our entire economic system is based on debt.

Without debt, very little economic activity happens.  We need mortgages to buy our homes, we need auto loans to buy our vehicles and we need our credit cards to do our shopping during the holiday season.

So where does all of that debt come from?

It comes from the banks.

In particular, the “too big to fail banks” are the heart of this debt-based system.

Do you have a mortgage, an auto loan or a credit card from one of these “too big to fail” institutions?  A very large percentage of the people that will read this article do.

And a lot of people might not like to hear this, but without those banks we essentially do not have an economy.

When Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008, it almost resulted in the meltdown of our entire system.  The stock market collapsed and we experienced an absolutely wicked credit crunch.

Unfortunately, that was just a small preview of what is coming.

Even though a few prominent “experts” such as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman have declared that the “too big to fail” problem is “over”, the truth is that it is now a bigger crisis than ever before.

Compared to five years ago, the four largest banks in the country are now almost 40 percent larger.  The following numbers come from a recent article in the Los Angeles Times

Just before the financial crisis hit, Wells Fargo & Co. had $609 billion in assets. Now it has $1.4 trillion. Bank of America Corp. had $1.7 trillion in assets. That’s up to $2.1 trillion.

And the assets of JPMorgan Chase & Co., the nation’s biggest bank, have ballooned to $2.4 trillion from $1.8 trillion.

At the same time that those banks have been getting bigger, 1,400 smaller banks have completely disappeared from the banking industry.

That means that we are now more dependent on these gigantic banks than ever.

At this point, the five largest banks account for 42 percent of all loans in the United States, and the six largest banks account for 67 percent of all assets in our financial system.

If someone came along and zapped those banks out of existence, our economy would totally collapse overnight.

So the health of this handful of immensely powerful banking institutions is absolutely critical to our economy.

Unfortunately, these banks have become deeply addicted to gambling.

Have you ever known people that allowed their lives to be destroyed by addictions that they could never shake?

Well, that is what is happening to these banks.  They have transformed Wall Street into the largest casino in the history of the world.  Most of the time, their bets pay off and they make lots of money.

But as we saw back in 2008, when they miscalculate things can fall apart very rapidly.

The bets that I am most concerned about are known as “derivatives“.  In essence, they are bets about what will or will not happen in the future.  The big banks use very sophisticated algorithms that are supposed to help them be on the winning side of these bets the vast majority of the time, but these algorithms are not perfect.  The reason these algorithms are not perfect is because they are based on assumptions, and those assumptions come from people.  They might be really smart people, but they are still just people.

If things stay fairly stable like they have the past few years, the algorithms tend to work very well.

But if there is a “black swan event” such as a major stock market crash, a collapse of European or Asian banks, a historic shift in interest rates, an Ebola pandemic, a horrific natural disaster or a massive EMP blast is unleashed by the sun, everything can be suddenly thrown out of balance.

Acrobat Nik Wallenda has been making headlines all over the world for crossing vast distances on a high-wire without a safety net.  Well, that is essentially what our “too big to fail” banks are doing every single day.  With each passing year, these banks have become even more reckless, and so far there have not been any serious consequences.

But without a doubt, someday there will be.

What would you say about a bookie that took $200,000 in bets but that only had $10,000 to cover those bets?

You would certainly call that bookie a fool.

But that is what our big banks are doing.

Right now, JPMorgan Chase has more than 67 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives but it only has 2.5 trillion dollars in assets.

Right now, Citibank has nearly 60 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives but it only has 1.9 trillion dollars in assets.

Right now, Goldman Sachs has more than 54 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives but it has less than a trillion dollars in assets.

Right now, Bank of America has more than 54 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives but it only has 2.2 trillion dollars in assets.

Right now, Morgan Stanley has more than 44 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives but it has less than a trillion dollars in assets.

Most people have absolutely no idea how incredibly vulnerable our financial system really is.

The truth is that these “too big to fail” banks could collapse at any time.

And when they fail, our economy will fail too.

So let us hope and pray that this brief period of false stability lasts for as long as possible.

Because when it ends, all hell is going to break loose.

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