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Would This Have Happened Under President Hillary? Holiday Retail Sales Soar Compare To Last Year

 

We are nearly a year into Donald Trump’s presidency, and the economic numbers continue to look quite good.  On Monday, we learned that U.S. retail sales during the holiday season are projected to be way up compared to 2016.  Yes, there are all sorts of economic red flags popping up all over the place, and I write about them regularly.  And without a doubt, 2017 has been one of the worst years for brick and mortar retail stores in a very long time.  But when something good happens we should acknowledge that too, and many are giving President Trump credit for the fact that retail sales are projected to be up 4.9 percent this holiday season compared to last year…

Despite thousands of store closings this year, Americans supplied a final flurry of spending to give retailers their best holiday season sales since 2011, figures released Tuesday show.

U.S. year-end holiday retail sales rose 4.9% compared to the same period last year, a welcome gift to U.S. retailers amid new signs of consumer confidence.

Of course this doesn’t mean that things have completely turned around for the retail industry.  We still absolutely shattered the all-time record for store closings in a single year, and the final number is going to be somewhere right around 7,000.  The following comes from CNBC

A larger-than-average slew of retail bankruptcies and stores being shuttered rocked the industry this year, making headlines and dragging even some of the better-performing companies such as Home Depot, TJ Maxx and Costco down with the dismal news.

So far in 2017, 6,985 store closure announcements have been made, according to a tracker from FGRT (formerly Fung Global Retail & Technology). That’s up more than 200 percent from a year ago, based on the firm’s findings.

More specifically, the number of store closings is up 229 percent compared to last year.

So yes, we are still very much in the midst of a “retail apocalypse”.

And actually, earlier this month we got news that Toys R US has filed for bankruptcy protection and could soon close as many as 200 stores

It’s hardly fun and games for the toy industry this holiday season with the bankruptcy of Toys ‘R’ Us hurting the fortunes of toymakers Mattel (MAT) and Hasbro (HAS). The sector’s prospects aren’t expected to improve anytime soon.

Toys ‘R’ Us, which filed for bankruptcy in September, is now said to be considering closing as many as 200 U.S. stores, roughly 21 percent of its brick-and-mortar locations, because of lackluster sales.

The fact that retail sales are up so much during this holiday season may slow the retail apocalypse, but it certainly will not end it.

We have got so much work to do to turn the economy around, but at least we have taken a few small steps in the right direction.  The recent tax bill that Congress passed was one of those small steps, but there is still so, so much more that needs to be accomplished.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

 

41 Million Americans Are Living In Poverty This Christmas

Even though the stock market continues to set new record high after new record high, poverty is exploding all over America.  It is being reported that 41 million people are living in poverty at this moment, and 9 million of them do not receive a single penny of income from anyone.  Once you have been unemployed for long enough, you don’t qualify for unemployment payments any longer, and once you are on the street there is nowhere for other governments programs to send a check to.  I have previously discussed the rising epidemic of homelessness in our nation, but most people don’t want to think about that sort of a thing these days.  Even though New York City has the most homeless since the Great Depression, and even though homelessness in Los Angeles is at an all-time record high, most people want to pretend that everything is just fine.

Well, the truth is that everything is not just fine.

A reporter from the Guardian recently traveled with a special UN envoy to some of the most impoverished areas of the United States.  His report is extremely eye-opening, and I wanted to share a short excerpt from his story.  This portion of his article is about a 41-year-old woman named Ressy Finley who is desperately trying to stay alive on the mean streets of Skid Row in Los Angeles…

Ressy Finley, 41, was busy sterilizing the white bucket she uses to slop out in her tent in which she has lived on and off for more than a decade. She keeps her living area, a mass of worn mattresses and blankets and a few motley possessions, as clean as she can in a losing battle against rats and cockroaches. She also endures waves of bed bugs, and has large welts on her shoulder to prove it.

She receives no formal income, and what she makes on recycling bottles and cans is no way enough to afford the average rents of $1,400 a month for a tiny one-bedroom. A friend brings her food every couple of days, the rest of the time she relies on nearby missions.

She cried twice in the course of our short conversation, once when she recalled how her infant son was taken from her arms by social workers because of her drug habit (he is now 14; she has never seen him again). The second time was when she alluded to the sexual abuse that set her as a child on the path towards drugs and homelessness.

Los Angeles has declared a state of emergency because the number of homeless is rising so rapidly, and so have nine other cities along the west coast.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “As America Gives Thanks, Homelessness Continues To Set New Records In Major Cities All Over The Nation”.

The sad thing is that there are more than a million homes sitting empty in America right now.  As economic opportunities have dried up, many communities in the middle part of the nation are becoming “ghost towns”, and it is getting worse with each passing day

There are nearly 1.4 million vacant residential properties across the country — abandoned, not for sale, mostly unoccupied homes. With vacant properties comprising as much as 30% of residential properties, some neighborhoods are starting to feel like ghost towns.

Many believe that the answer to the decline of the middle class and the growth of poverty is even more socialism.

But if you want to see where that road leads, just look at what is happening in Venezuela.  People are eating cats and dogs, and just today there were a whole bunch of mainstream news articles about how children are literally starving to death.

No, the real answer is to do what made our economy so great in the first place.  Between 1872 and 1913, we didn’t have an income tax or a central bank, and it was the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history.

What we have today is not free market capitalism.  We have gone very far down the road toward government-controlled socialism, and it has created a giant mess.

If we want to have a healthy middle class again, we need to have a society that promotes entrepreneurs and the creation of small businesses.  Today we are literally choking the financial life out of entrepreneurs and small businesses, and when I am elected to Congress I am going to fight as hard as I can to change that.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

As America Gives Thanks, Homelessness Continues To Set New Records In Major Cities All Over The Nation

If the economy is doing just fine, then why is homelessness at levels not seen “since the Great Depression” in major cities all over the country?  If the U.S. economy was actually in good shape, we would expect that the number of people that are homeless would be going down or at least stabilizing.  Instead, we have a growing national crisis on our hands.  In fact, within the past two years “at least 10 cities or municipal regions in California, Oregon and Washington” have declared a state of emergency because the number of homeless is growing so rapidly.

Things are particularly bad in southern California, and this year the Midnight Mission will literally be feeding a small army of people that have nowhere to sleep at night…

Thanksgiving meals will be served to thousands of homeless and near-homeless individuals today on Skid Row and in Pasadena and Canoga Park amid calls for donations and volunteers for the rest of the year.

The Midnight Mission will serve Thanksgiving brunch to nearly 2,500 homeless and near-homeless men, women and children, according to Georgia Berkovich, its director of public affairs.

Overall, the Midnight Mission serves more than a million meals a year, and Berkovich says that homelessness hasn’t been this bad in southern California “since the Great Depression”

Berkovich said the group has been serving nearly 1 million meals a year each year since 2013.

“We haven’t seen numbers like this since the Great Depression,” she said.

And of course the official numbers confirm what Berkovich is claiming.  According to an article published earlier this year, the number of homeless people living in Los Angeles County has never been higher…

The number of homeless people in Los Angeles has jumped to a new record, as city officials grapple with a humanitarian crisis of proportions remarkable for a modern American metropolis.

Municipal leaders said that a recent count over several nights found 55,188 homeless people living in a survey region comprising most of Los Angeles County, up more than 25% from last year.

If the California economy is truly doing well, then why is this happening?

We see the same thing happening when we look at the east coast.  Just check out these numbers from New York City

In recent years the number of homeless people has grown. Whereas rents increased by 18% between 2005 and 2015, incomes rose by 5%. When Rudy Giuliani entered City Hall in 1994, 24,000 people lived in shelters. About 31,000 lived in them when Mike Bloomberg became mayor in 2002. When Bill de Blasio entered City Hall in 2014, 51,500 did. The number of homeless people now in shelters is around 63,000.

For New York, this is the highest that the homeless population has been since the Great Depression, and city leaders are trying to come up with a solution.

Meanwhile, things are so bad in Seattle that “400 unauthorized tent camps” have popped up…

Housing prices are soaring here thanks to the tech industry, but the boom comes with a consequence: A surge in homelessness marked by 400 unauthorized tent camps in parks, under bridges, on freeway medians and along busy sidewalks. The liberal city is trying to figure out what to do.

Are you noticing a theme?

Homelessness is at epidemic levels all over the U.S., and this crisis is getting worse with each passing day.  Some communities are trying to care for their growing homeless populations, but others are simply trying to force them to go somewhere else.  They are doing this by essentially making it illegal to be homeless.  In some cities it is now a crime to engage in “public camping”, to “block a walkway” or to create any sort of “temporary structure for human habitation”.  These laws specifically target the homeless, and they are very cruel.

Many of us tend to picture the homeless as mostly lazy older men that don’t want to work and that instead want to drink or do drugs all day.

But the truth is that women and children make up a significant percentage of the homeless.  In fact, the number of homeless children in our country has increased by about 60 percent since the end of the last recession.

And there are thousands upon thousands of military veterans that are homeless.  For example, a 34-year-old man named Johnny that served in the Marine Corps recently used his last 20 dollars to buy fuel for a woman that had run out of gas and was stranded along I-95 in Miami

Pulled over on the side of I-95, McClure, 27, was approached by a homeless man named Johnny. She was apprehensive at first, but Johnny told her to get back into her car and to lock the doors while he walked to get her help. He went to a nearby gas station, used his last $20 fill a can and brought it back to fill up her car.

Grateful, but without a dollar to repay him, McClure promised she would come back with something.

In the weeks since, she’s returned to the spot along I-95 where Johnny stays with cash, snacks and Wawa gift cards. Each time she’s stopped by with her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, they’ve learned a bit more about Johnny’s story, and become humbled by his gratitude.

Deciding that they wanted to do even more for Johnny, they started a GoFundMe page for him and have since raised approximately $250,000.

So it looks like there is going to be a happy ending to Johnny’s story, but the truth is that more people are falling into homelessness with each passing day.

If things are this bad now, how much worse will they become as the economy really starts slowing down?  Already, we have shattered the all-time yearly record for retail store closings, and we still have more than a month to go.  The following is from a CNN article entitled “Is This The Last Black Friday?”

A record number of store closures — 6,735 — have already been announced this year. That’s more than triple the tally for 2016, according to Fung Global Retail and Technology, a retail think tank.

And there have been 620 bankruptcies in the sector so far this year, according to BankruptcyData.com, up 31% from the same period last year. Prominent names such as Toys R Us, Gymboree, Payless Shoes and RadioShack have all filed this year, and Sears Holdings (SHLD), which owns both the iconic Sears and Kmart chains, has warned there is “substantial doubt” it can remain in business.

Sadly, analysts are projecting that the number of store closings could be as high as 9,000 next year.

Yes, there are some areas of the country that are doing well right now, but there are many others that are not.

Let us always remember to have compassion on those that are struggling, because someday we may be the ones that end up needing some help.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Are The ‘Toxic’ Democrats Destined To Become A Permanent Minority Party?

It has become exceedingly clear that the Democratic Party is in deep trouble.  Close to 55 million dollars was spent on the race in Georgia’s sixth congressional district, and that shattered all kinds of records.  Democrat Jon Ossoff was able to raise and spend six times as much money as Karen Handel and yet he still lost.  This was supposed to be the race that would show the American people that the Democrats could take back control of Congress in 2018, and so for the Democrats this was a bitter failure.  The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee actually injected almost 5 million dollars into the race themselves, and Planned Parenthood threw in another $700,000.  But after all of the time, effort and energy that was expended, Handel still won fairly comfortably.

The Democrats are trying to spin this result as some sort of “moral victory”, but as Dan Balz of the Washington Post has pointed out, there are “no moral victories in politics”…

There are no moral victories in politics. Republicans won on Tuesday in the most important special election this year. Democrats lost, as they have done in the other special elections in GOP-held seats this year.

For the national Democratic Party, the debate continues about developing a message that goes beyond attacking Trump, or assuming dissatisfaction with the president will be enough.

It has been a very long time since there has been so much national attention on a single House race.  A number of high profile Hollywood celebrities became personally involved in Ossoff’s campaign, and they were absolutely devastated when he lost

Celebrities who donated time and money to Ossoff’s campaign, including actresses Alyssa Milano and Rosie O’Donnell, used their social media accounts to react to the Democrat’s loss shortly after the election results were confirmed late Tuesday night.

Milano, who personally drove voters to the polls in April’s preliminary election and was actively campaigning for the Democrat for most of Election Day, tweeted simply: “Grouphug” and “Get in.”

Meanwhile, electronic music producer Moby and vocal Trump critic O’Donnell appeared to be frustrated by the results, with Moby questioning how Democratic “still can’t win” even with “buffoon” Donald Trump in the White House. O’Donnell tweeted: “DONALD TRUMP IS THE DARKNESS ITSELF.”

Where does the Democratic Party go from here?

Their anti-Trump message is not working, and their usual divide and conquer tactics are not working either.

At this point either the Democratic Party is going to have to reinvent itself, or they could be facing a long, painful string of election defeats for the foreseeable future.  To say that things have not been going well for the Democrats lately would be a major understatement.  I really like what Rush Limbaugh had to say about this on his radio show…

“You have no idea the degree to which the media and the Democratic Party are destroyed today. I’m talking about how they feel … which is complete and utter defeat, frustration and devastation,” he said on Wednesday, hours after Republican Karen Handel was a multiple percentage point winner over defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff.

“The dirty little secret is the media and the Democratic Party is turning off average Americans. They are not persuading, they are not convincing people Trump is a reprobate,” he continued. “They do not know how to beat Donald Trump. There are depressed and despondent.”

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why Jon Ossoff lost.

All of the anger and violence that we have seen lately has greatly tainted the Democratic Party.

The Democrats have become the party of Kathy Griffin.

The Democrats have become the party of Antifa and mock Trump assassinations.

And the Democrats have become the party of James Hodgkinson.

U.S. Representative Tim Ryan was right on the ball when he admitted that his party’s brand has now become “toxic” in much of the nation…

Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio, who tried to unseat Ms. Pelosi as House minority leader late last fall, said she remained a political millstone for Democrats. But Mr. Ryan said the Democratic brand had also become “toxic” in much of the country because voters saw Democrats as “not being able to connect with the issues they care about.”

“Our brand is worse than Trump,” he said.

As I have discussed repeatedly, the left doesn’t have any positive vision for the future to offer the American people.  They cannot win in the marketplace of ideas, and so they use anger, frustration, intimidation and violence as weapons.  For quite a while the Democrats successfully used “the blame game” and divide and conquer tactics to win elections, but now the American people are seeing through the charade.

The more angry and violent the left becomes, the more the American people are going to turn against them.  The following comes from Daniel Greenfield

But Trump Derangement Syndrome is a symptom of a problem with the left that existed before he was born. The left is an angry movement. It is animated by an outraged self-righteousness whose moral superiority doubles as dehumanization. And its machinery of culture glamorizes its anger. The media dresses up the seething rage so that the left never has to look at its inner Hodgkinson in the mirror.

The left is as angry as ever. Campus riots and assassinations of Republican politicians are nothing new. What is changing is that its opponents are beginning to match its anger.  The left still clings to the same anger it had when it was a theoretical movement with plans, but little impact on the country. The outrage at the left is no longer ideological. There are millions of people whose health care was destroyed by ObamaCare, whose First Amendment rights were taken away, whose land was seized, whose children were turned against them and whose livelihoods were destroyed.

Of course it is quite true that the Republican Party needs to be cleaned up as well.  Many establishment Republicans use labels such as “conservative” and “Pro-Life” to win elections, but then they end up government like Democrats.  And so many members of Congress in both parties spend far more time and energy raising money for their next elections than they do serving the American people.

There is a reason why Congress only has a 17.6 percent approval rating at the moment.  Both major parties should take that as a sign that they need to clean up their acts, because the American people are sick and tired of the status quo.

The Left Refuses To Tone Down Their Inflammatory Language, And As A Result We Now Have War In The Streets

What in the world did the left think would happen?  When Kathy Griffin posed for a photo with “Trump’s bloody head”, that sent a message.  And the twisted version of “Julius Caesar” that is currently being put on by a New York theater group in which a character meant to closely resemble Donald Trump is brutally assassinated sends a message.  At any time of the day, you can find leftist radicals openly discussing violence against Trump and Republicans on Facebook and Twitter, and groups like Antifa have been employing extremely violent tactics ever since the Inauguration.  So it is not much of a surprise that a huge Bernie Sanders supporter decided that it would be a good idea to try to mow down Republican members of Congress as they were practicing for an upcoming charity baseball game on Wednesday.  66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson was simply the product of a political movement that is absolutely seething with hate.

This is not a game.  House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was shot in the hip, and four others were injured.  You can see some footage of Scalise being taken to an ambulance here.  When Hodgkinson arrived at the practice field, he specifically asked which party was using the practice field at that moment…

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) recounted an “odd” encounter he had as he was leaving the field just minutes before the shooting: “There was a guy that walked up to us that was asking whether it was Republicans or Democrats out there, and it was just a little odd,” DeSantis told Fox News.

According to news reports, Hodgkinson fired dozens of shots.  This wasn’t a case of targeting a particular individual.  Rather, it was obvious that he intended to kill as many Republicans as he possibly could.

But instead of showing remorse, many on the radical left were actually celebrating the shootings on Twitter.  And there were even some that were disappointed that it wasn’t Trump that had been shot.

I hate to say this, but it is likely that this is just the beginning of the violence by the radical left.

So what would make a 66-year-old man suddenly snap like this?

His Facebook page has now been taken down, but when it was up Hodgkinson had an enormous photo of Bernie Sanders as his banner image.  And it turns out that he was a huge fan of Rachel Maddow

So, where did Hodgkinson draw inspiration for his “progressive” political beliefs?  Well, according to a letter to the editor published in the “Belleville News-Democrat” in July 2012, Hodgkinson’s favorite TV show was MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show.”

What you consistently feed your mind determines what you eventually become, and this case is a perfect example.  On Facebook, Hodgkinson regularly shared his hate-filled beliefs

In a March 22 Facebook post, Hodgkinson, who  turned his ire against Trump, who he described as a “traitor.”

“Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy,” he said. “It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”

In a post earlier this week, the suspect highlighted a campaign calling for the president’s impeachment.

“Trump is Guilty & Should Go to Prison for Treason,” Hodgkinson wrote.

And just check out some of the Facebook groups that Hodgkinson belonged to

▪  “The Road to Hell is Paved with Republicans”

▪  “Donald Trump is not my President”

▪  “President Bernie Sanders”

▪  “Illinois Berners United to Resist Trump”

▪  “Boycott the Republican Party”

▪  “Expose Republican Fraud”

▪  “Terminate the Republican Party”

The hate-filled ideology of the left is intellectually and morally bankrupt, and the only thing all of this violence is going to do is to drive the American people away from their cause.

I must say that I agreed with U.S. Representative Steve King 100 percent when he told reporters that “violence is appearing in the streets”, and that it is “coming from the left”

“America has been divided,” said Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who, in suit and tie, stopped by the crime scene to pray and was viscerally angry about his colleagues being attacked. “And the center of America is disappearing, and the violence is appearing in the streets, and it’s coming from the left.”

And of course there has been a pattern of violence against Republican lawmakers in recent months.  The following compilation comes from Natural News

Last month, as noted by The Daily Caller,  GOP Rep. Tom Garrett’s town halls were replete with heavy security and police presence after he and his family were repeatedly threatened with death. “This is how we’re going to kill your wife,” some disgusting coward wrote, Garrett told Politico.

Also last month, Tennessee police arrested and charged a 35-year-old woman, Wendi Wright, with felonious reckless endangerment after she allegedly attempted to run GOP Rep. David Kustoff off the road following a raucous town hall event featuring the Republican health care legislation.

That same day, North Dakota police escorted a man out of a town hall meeting hosted by Rep. Kevin Cramer after a man became physical with him, shoving a fistful of dollars into Cramer’s shirt collar.

I almost didn’t want my wife to see what happened in Alexandria this morning, because I am very, very strongly considering running for Congress here in Idaho.

I couldn’t help but think that it could have been me out on that baseball field.

It would be naive to think that more Republican lawmakers won’t be targeted.  Just like radical Islam, the radical left in this country will never be satisfied until they completely eradicate our way of life.  The radical left uses tools such as threats, violence and intimidation because they simply do not have the ammunition to win in the marketplace of ideas.  And so anyone that tries to stand up to them will become a potential target.

But if we just sit back and do nothing, they will win by default.

In the end, Hodgkinson and others like him will fail.  Because every time they strike us, all they are doing is waking up a sleeping giant called “the American people”.  We will not bend, we will not bow, and we will not break, and no matter how violent they become our resolve will not waver.

Every since the very beginning of our nation Americans have had to stand up against tyranny, and we aren’t going to back down now.

Baltimore Has Become A Rotting, Decaying War Zone As A Raging Opioid Epidemic Eats Away At The City Like Cancer

It is hard to believe that Baltimore was once one of the greatest cities in the entire world.  Unlike nearby Washington D.C., Baltimore is a blue collar city that is home to some of the hardest working people in America.  When I was in high school, my brother and I were huge fans of the Baltimore Orioles, and once in a while our parents would drive us from our home in Virginia all the way up to Baltimore to see them play.  As an adult, I spent a number of years living near D.C., and I would take frequent trips up to Baltimore.  To say that the city is in a state of decline would be a major understatement.  Everywhere you look there are abandoned buildings and homes, and as you drive through some of the worst areas you can actually see drug addicts just lying in the streets.  Just like so many other communities all over this country, decades of liberal policies have taken a brutal toll, and now the city is just a rotting, decaying shell of the glorious metropolis that it once was.

There are some sections of Baltimore that you simply do not go into once the sun goes down.  And actually it isn’t a very good idea to go into those areas during the day either.  The crime in the city has gotten so bad that authorities have actually formally requested help from the federal government

According to The Baltimore Sun Newspaper, the city has logged in 118 homicides today with the projection of >400 murders for year’s end. It’s so bad here that Baltimore’s Mayor has asked the Federal Government for help in attempt to regain control. Even the police union sounds the alarm of an officer shortage leading to decrease in patrols. All of this is occurring as the Baltimore population declines, nearing a 100-year low, U.S. Census says.

Through the end of April, Baltimore was on pace for the highest murder rate in the history of the city.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The primary factor fueling all of this violence is an opioid epidemic that is completely and totally out of control

The opioid epidemic is the quiet killer that has been leaving a trail of bodies on the streets of Baltimore.

“The individuals that are putting these drugs on our street, they’re killing people on our street,” said deputy commissioner Dean Palmere of the Baltimore Police Department.

Drug overdoses is expected to have killed 2,000 people statewide in 2016 and more than 800 in Baltimore alone.

“There are more people dying from overdose here in Baltimore City, than there are dying of homicide,” said Baltimore City health commissioner Dr. Leana Wen in February.

That last paragraph amazed me when I first read it.

Even though Baltimore is on pace for the highest murder rate in the city’s history, more people are actually dying from drug overdoses.

And now police in the city are warning of a new opioid that is reportedly “100 times more potent than heroin”.  It is called Carfentanyl, and it can kill people almost instantly.

I would like to share with you a short YouTube film put out by Alastair Williamson just a few days ago entitled “The Baltimore Experience”.  No matter how much I write, I could never communicate the devastation in the city quite like this little video does…

Did you see the part near the end where Williamson stops to offer a bottle of water to a man that is just lying in the street?

Hopefully that particular man is not on anything, but it is quite common to see people lying around like zombies in cities where an opioid epidemic is raging.  These are very cruel drugs, and they will utterly consume you if you allow them to.

The more drugs that come in, the worse the violence gets, and within the past 24 hours we have seen four more senseless murders in Baltimore…

Two men were shot and killed Tuesday morning in west Baltimore, police said. Officers responded at 5:52 a.m. to the shooting on the 2800 block of Lanvale Street.

Police said officers found the victims in and around a vehicle. Both had been shot in the head and were declared dead at the scene, police said.

A 35-year-old man was fatally shot Monday evening in southeast Baltimore, police said.

The victim, identified as Charles Gatuthu, 35, was shot in the head and body at about 7:45 p.m. in the 6100 block of Boston Street. He was taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital, where he died.

A 25-year-old was shot and killed Monday afternoon in west Baltimore, police said.

Of course Baltimore is far from alone.  On Monday, I wrote about how Chicago is becoming a gang-infested wasteland, and on Tuesday we got news of Chicago’s 200th homicide so far in 2017.

And an official bulletin went out to all members of the Chicago police on Monday warning them about the “high-powered weapons” that gangs are now using to kill people…

Chicago police issued a bulletin Monday warning its officers about gangs armed with high-powered weapons, after three people were shot to death over the weekend – including two attending a memorial for the earlier victim.

Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the three people who were killed in the shootings Sunday were all members of the same street gang.

Sometimes it is hard to believe that this is still America.

The precious people that are getting hooked on these drugs and that are committing these murders were once innocent little boys and girls.  Somewhere along the way they were led down the wrong path, and this is happening on a massive scale all over the nation.

So what should we do?

What we need are some real solutions.  We need to restore the principles and the values that this nation was founded upon, and we need people that are willing to step forward and take this nation in a different direction.

In times of great darkness, light is needed the most, and at this moment in our history we are in desperate need of some lights.

It Is Becoming Illegal To Be Homeless In America As Houston, Dallas And Dozens Of Other Cities Pass Draconian Laws

Should we make homelessness against the law and simply throw all homeless people into prison so that we don’t have to deal with them?  Incredibly, this is actually starting to happen in dozens of major cities all across the United States.  It may be difficult to believe, but in many large urban areas today, if you are found guilty of “public camping” you can be taken directly to jail.  In some cities, activities such as “blocking a walkway” or creating any sort of “temporary structure for human habitation” are also considered to be serious crimes.  And there are some communities that have even made it illegal to feed the homeless without an official permit.  Unfortunately, as the U.S. economy continues to slow down the number of homeless people will continue to grow, and so this is a crisis that is only going to grow in size and scope.

Of course the goal of many of these laws is to get the homeless to go somewhere else.  But as these laws start to multiply all across the nation, pretty soon there won’t be too many places left where it is actually legal to be homeless.

One city that is being highly criticized for passing extremely draconian laws is Houston.  In that city it is actually illegal for the homeless to use any sort of material to shield themselves from the wind, the rain and the cold

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is taking a similar approach—his anti-encampment ordinance makes it illegal to use “fabric, metal, cardboard, or other materials as a tent or temporary structure for human habitation.” This ensures that the Houstonian homeless are vulnerable not just to the elements, but also to the constant threat of the police. Officials cite one of the most common justifications for crackdowns on the homeless: neighborhood safety (a more socially acceptable way of talking about the not-in-my-backyard mentality).

With all of the other problems that we are facing as a nation, it stuns me that there are politicians that would spend their time dreaming up such sick and twisted laws.

According to one news report, the homeless in Houston are now officially banned from doing all of the following things…

1. They can’t block a sidewalk, stand in a roadway median or block a building doorway. (AKA they can’t panhandle).

2. They also can’t do any of these things — blocking walkways — under state law that already existed.

3. They can’t sleep in tents, boxes or any other makeshift shelter on public property.

4. They also can’t have heating devices.

5. They can’t carry around belongings that take up space more than three feet long, three feet wide, three feet tall.

6. People can’t spontaneously feed more than five homeless people without a permit.

If I was a homeless person in Houston, I would definitely be looking to get out of there.

But where are they going to go?

Things are almost as bad in Dallas.  In fact, it is being reported that the police in Dallas “issued over 11,000 citations for sleeping in public from January 2012 to November 2015.”

When you break that number down, it comes to 323 citations per month.

Of course some people have tried to challenge these types of laws in court, but most of the challenges have been unsuccessful.  For example, just check out what recently happened in Denver

Three people who were contesting Denver’s urban-camping ban were found guilty on Wednesday, April 5, at the Lindsey-Flanigan courthouse. The defendants — Jerry Burton, Randy Russell and Terese Howard — were determined to have unlawfully camped on November 28, 2016, and to have interfered with police operations at one location. All three were sentenced with court-ordered probation for one year and between twenty and forty hours of community service.

The case challenged Denver’s unauthorized-camping ordinance, which has been divisive ever since Denver City Council approved it in 2012.

Since the courts are generally upholding these laws, this has just emboldened more communities to adopt anti-homelessness ordinances.  According to one report, dozens of major cities have now passed such laws…

City-wide bans on public camping (PDF) have increased by 69 percent throughout the United States. What used to be seen as an annoyance is now prohibited, forcing fines or jail time on those who certainly can’t afford it. The only nationwide nonprofit devoted to studying this, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, has been tracking these changes since 2006. Their findings? There are a scary number of laws passed that ironically make it costly to be homeless.

For example, in 33 of the 100 U.S. cities they studied, it’s illegal to publicly camp. In 18, it’s illegal to sleep in public. Panhandling is illegal in 27 cities.

In 39 cities, it’s illegal to live in vehicles.

As I have warned repeatedly, we are seeing hearts grow cold all around us.  Instead of doing everything that they can to try to help those in need, communities are trying to make them go some place else, and those that try to feed and help the homeless are being harshly penalized.

Sadly, all of this comes at a time when homelessness is on the rise all over America.  In a previous article I pointed out that in New York City the number of homeless people recently hit a brand new all-time high, and things have gotten so bad in Los Angeles that the L.A. City Council has formally requested that Governor Jerry Brown declare a state of emergency.

We tend to think of the homeless as bearded old men with drinking problems, but the truth is that many of the homeless are children.

In fact, the number of homeless children in the United States has risen by about 60 percent since the end of the last recession.

If this is how we are going to treat some of the most vulnerable members of our society while things are still relatively stable, how are we going to be treating one another when the economy completely collapses?

Broken America

Is this the beginning of the end for the United States of America?  It has been said that a house divided against itself will surely fall, and today we live in a shattered union.  In all my years, I have never seen so much strife, discord, bitterness and resentment in this country.  Everyone can see what is happening, but nobody can seem to stop it.  Politically, you have got tens of millions of people trying to pull America one way, and you have got tens of millions of people trying to pull it the exact opposite way.  As I discussed in a previous article, the term “civil war” is now being thrown around by some pundits even though nobody has started shooting yet.  We are a deeply divided and broken nation, and if we don’t find a way to fix things America will not survive.

Every survey and opinion poll that has been taken recently backs up what I am saying.  For example, a Gallup survey that was conducted after the election in November found that an all-time record high 77 percent of all Americans believe that “the nation is divided on the most important values”…

Seventy-seven percent of Americans, a new high, believe the nation is divided on the most important values, while 21% believe it is united and in agreement. Over the past 20+ years, the public has tended to perceive the nation as being more divided than united, apart from two surveys conducted shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

So how do you fix this?

Nobody can force half the population to suddenly change their views on the most important issues of the day.

Earlier today, I wrote an article about how America is becoming a “politically-correct madhouse“, and there really is no compromising with the forces of political correctness.  Either you get in line or you are the enemy.

Once upon a time the values enshrined in the U.S. Constitution by our founders united us, but today about half the country has completely rejected those values.

Those that would like to restore our constitutional values find themselves diametrically opposed to the agenda that progressives are trying to shove down our throats, and personally I don’t see much room for compromise between the two sides.

Given enough time, one side would ultimately vanquish the other side, but I don’t know if America has enough time left for that to happen.

There were some that had been hoping that our new president would unite the country, but you can throw that idea right out the window.  According to numbers from Public Policy Polling, nearly half the nation already wants him to be impeached…

On our first poll of his Presidency voters were evenly divided on Trump, with 44% approving of him and 44% also disapproving. Now his approval rating is 43%, while his disapproval has gone all the way up to 53%. If voters could choose they’d rather have both Barack Obama (52/44) or Hillary Clinton (49/45) instead of Trump.

Just three weeks into his administration, voters are already evenly divided on the issue of impeaching Trump with 46% in favor and 46% opposed.

The political divisions in this nation are just going to grow worse and worse.

But just because we vehemently disagree with someone politically does not mean that we should hate that person.

I know that it can be infuriating to see some politician get up and start spouting off ideas that would be extremely damaging to this country.  But if we choose to hate our political “enemies”, we become part of the problem.

It is easy to love someone that agrees with you about most things.  The real challenge is finding a way to love those that believe things that you may find truly repulsive.

That doesn’t mean that you have to agree with what they believe.  I am not saying that at all.  You can disagree very strongly with someone and still love that person.

Unfortunately, the hearts of most people have grown cold in America.  As hatred, anger and frustration continue to grow, it is only a matter of time before we start seeing outbursts of violence.  Rioting, looting and civil unrest are going to become commonplace in communities all over the U.S., and eventually some of our major cities will burn.  In my latest book I warned that the “thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted will disappear”, and thousands upon thousands of Americans that can see this coming are already fleeing the big cities.

What particularly disturbs me is when I see people that are supposed to be on the same side fighting each other.

If you are around someone long enough, eventually they are going to do or say something to offend you.  None of us is going to agree 100 percent on everything, and it is a horrible shame to allow one disagreement to ruin what should be a great relationship.

If you do not learn to forgive, every relationship that you ever have in your life will ultimately fail, because everyone is going to let you down at some point.

And you may think that you are making the other person pay a price by refusing to forgive, but the truth is that you will be the one that will end up suffering.  Even medical science has found that there are health benefits to forgiving and that unforgiveness can actually help bring on serious illnesses.  The following comes from the official website of Johns Hopkins Medicine

Whether it’s a simple spat with your spouse or long-held resentment toward a family member or friend, unresolved conflict can go deeper than you may realize—it may be affecting your physical health. The good news: Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; and reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression and stress. And research points to an increase in the forgiveness-health connection as you age.

“There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed,” says Karen Swartz, M.D., director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure and immune response. Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health.

There are people that are reading this article that need to pick up the phone right now and apologize to someone that they have been refusing to forgive.

Yes, without a doubt that would be difficult.  But you might just be surprised how much grace a little humility can unleash.

You may not be able to fix our broken nation, but you certainly can fix the broken relationships in your own life.

And if millions of Americans decided to choose love and forgiveness rather than hatred, anger, bitterness and resentment, it would most definitely have a transformative effect on the entire country.

I would like to close with some very wise words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

16 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Live In California

San Francisco Skyline - Public DomainIt has been said that “as California goes, so goes the nation”.  That is why it is such a shame what is happening to that once great state.  At one time, California seemed to be the epicenter of the American Dream.  Featuring some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the entire world, the gorgeous weather and booming economy of the state inspired people from all over the world to move to the state.  But now people are moving out of the state by the millions, because life in California has literally become a nightmare for so many people.

I certainly don’t have anything against the state personally.  My brother and sister were both born there, and I spent a number of my childhood years in stunning northern California.  When I was younger I would sometimes dream of getting a place on the coast eventually, but for reasons I will discuss below I no longer think that would be advisable.

In fact, if I was living in California today I would be immediately looking for a way to move out of the state unless I specifically felt called to stay.  The following are 16 reasons why you shouldn’t live in California…

#1 The entire California coastline is part of the “Ring of Fire” seismic zone that roughly encircles the Pacific Ocean.  The San Andreas Fault has been described as a “time bomb“, and at some point there will be a catastrophic earthquake that absolutely devastates the entire region.  In fact, a study that was just released says that a “major earthquake” on the San Andreas Fault “is way overdue”

A recently published study reveals new evidence that a major earthquake is way overdue on a 100 mile stretch of the San Andreas Fault from the Antelope Valley to the Tejon Pass and beyond.

Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey released the results of the years-long study warning a major earthquake could strike soon.

#2 Out of all 50 states, the state of California has been ranked as the worst state for business for 12 years in a row

In what is sounding like a broken record, California once again ranked dead last in Chief Executive magazine’s annual Best and Worst States for Business survey of CEOs – as it has all 12 years the survey has been conducted. Texas, meanwhile, earned the top spot for the 12th straight year.

Among the survey’s subcategories, the 513 CEOs from across the nation ranked California 50th in taxation and regulation, 35th in workforce quality and 26th in living environment, which includes cost of living, the education system and state and local attitudes toward business. Notably, California placed worst among the nine states in the Western region in all three categories.

#3 California has the highest state income tax rates in the entire nation.  For many Americans, the difference between what you would have to pay if you lived in California and what you would have to pay if you lived in Texas could literally buy a car every single year.

#4 The state government in Sacramento seems to go a little bit more insane with each passing session.  This time around, they are talking about going to a single-payer healthcare system for the entire state that would cost California taxpayers 40 billion dollars a year

On Friday, State Senator Ricardo Lara introduced legislation that would transition California’s healthcare into a single-payer system. (RELATED: Read what a retired colonel said about the real purpose of Obamacare). The system would be very similar to the healthcare system currently in place in Canada and would cost California taxpayers roughly $40 billion for the first year alone. Given the poor economic climate California has already created for itself, this will no doubt be just one more burden on the people of California, and one step closer towards total bankruptcy.

Micah Weinberg, the president of the Economic Institute at the Bay Area Council, raised concerns over the financial consequences of the proposed legislation. “Where are they going to come up with the $40 billion?” he asked. He went on to suggest that adopting a state level single-payer system is “just not feasible to do as a state.”

#5 The traffic in the major cities just keeps getting worse and worse.  According to USA Today, Los Angeles now has the worst traffic in the entire world, and San Francisco is not far behind.

#6 A lot of money is being made in Silicon Valley these days (at least for now), but poverty is also exploding in the state.  In desperation, homeless people are banding together to create large tent cities all over the state, and the L.A. City Council recently asked Governor Jerry Brown “to declare homelessness a statewide emergency“.

#7 Thanks to unchecked illegal immigration, crime is on the rise in many California cities.  The drug war that has been raging for years in Mexico is increasingly spilling over the border, and many families have moved out of the state for this reason alone.

#8 California is one of the most litigious states in the entire nation.  According to the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, the “lawsuit climate” in California is ranked 47th out of all 50 states.

#9 Every year wildfires and mudslides wreak havoc in the state.  Erosion is particularly bad along the coast, and I have previously written about how some portions of the California coastline are literally falling into the ocean.

#10 California has some of the most ridiculous housing prices in the entire country.  Due to a lack of affordable housing rents have soared to wild extremes in San Francisco, where one poor engineer was actually paying $1,400 a month to live in a closet.

#11 All over the state, key infrastructure is literally falling to pieces.  Governor Jerry Brown recently issued a list of key projects that needed to be done as soon as possible, and the total price tag for that list was 100 billion dollars.  Of course that list didn’t even include the Oroville Dam, and we all saw what happened there.

#12 Radiation from the ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster continues to cross the ocean and wash up along the California coastline.  The impact of this crisis on the health of those living along the west coast could potentially be felt for generations.

#13 Illegal drug use in the state is on the rise again, and emergency rooms are being flooded by heroin overdose victims.

#14 On top of everything else, it is being reported that Russia is “quietly ‘seeding’ the U.S. shoreline with nuclear ‘mole’ missiles”.  The following comes from retired colonel and former Russian defense ministry spokesman Viktor Baranetz

“What are these mysterious ‘asymmetrical responses’ that our politicians and generals speak about so often? Maybe it’s a myth or a pretty turn of phrase? No! Our asymmetrical response is nuclear warheads that can modify their course and height so that no computer can calculate their trajectory. Or, for example, the Americans are deploying their tanks, airplanes and special forces battalions along the Russian border. And we are quietly ‘seeding’ the U.S. shoreline with nuclear ‘mole’ missiles (they dig themselves in and ‘sleep’ until they are given the command)[…]

“Oh, it seems I’ve said too much. I should hold my tongue.”

Hopefully what Baranetz is claiming is not accurate, because if it is even partly true the implications are absolutely staggering.

#15 North Korea is a major nuclear threat as well.  It is being reported that the North Koreans are developing an ICBM that could potentially reach the west coast of the United States…

Defense officials have warned that North Korea is on the brink of producing an ICBM that could target the United States. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced in January during his New Year’s address that Pyongyang had “entered the final stage of preparations to test-launch” an ICBM that could reach parts of the United States.

#16 Someday a very large earthquake will produce a major tsunami on the west coast.  According to the Los Angeles Times, one study found that a magnitude 9.0 earthquake along the Cascadia fault could potentially produce a massive tsunami that would “wash away coastal towns”…

If a 9.0 earthquake were to strike along California’s sparsely populated North Coast, it would have a catastrophic ripple effect.

A giant tsunami created by the quake would wash away coastal towns, destroy U.S. 101 and cause $70 billion in damage over a large swath of the Pacific coast. More than 100 bridges would be lost, power lines toppled and coastal towns isolated. Residents would have as few as 15 minutes notice to flee to higher ground, and as many as 10,000 would perish.

Scientists last year published this grim scenario for a massive rupture along the Cascadia fault system, which runs 700 miles off shore from Northern California to Vancouver Island.

Over the past decade, approximately five million people have moved away from California.

After reading this article, perhaps you have a better understanding why so many people are getting out while they still can.

To me, one of the greatest concerns is the rise in seismic activity that we are seeing all over the world.  In my latest book I express my belief that the United States will be greatly affected by this increase in seismic activity, and California is going to get hit harder than just about anywhere else.

Once again, I don’t have anything against California or the people that live there.  It is such a beautiful place, and it once held so much promise.

Unfortunately that promise has been shattered, and there is a mass exodus out of the state as families flee the horrific nightmare that California is in the process of becoming.

Government Spooks Can Use The Mic And Camera On Trump’s Phone Even When He Thinks It Is Turned Off

Trump Speaking With Putin In The Oval Office - Public DomainAfter reading this article you might not ever view your electronic devices the same way again.  Last year, Hollywood released a biographical political thriller based on the life of Edward Snowden that had one particularly creepy scene.  In that scene, a government spook used a program to remotely activate the microphone and camera on a laptop, and by doing so he was able to watch a woman as she got undressed.  Sadly, as you will see below, this kind of thing is happening constantly.  Any digital device can potentially be accessed and used to spy on you even if it appears to be turned off.  And this is why Donald Trump needs to be so careful right now, because the intelligence community wants to take him down and they can literally use any digital device in his possession to try to gather dirt on him.  We have a “deep state” that is absolutely obsessed with watching, tracking and monitoring the American people, and something desperately needs to be done about this unconstitutional surveillance.  Now that Trump has become greatly upset about how the government was tapping into his phone calls, maybe something will finally get accomplished.

In an article that I just published on The Most Important News, I talked about the NSA’s brand new two billion dollar data storage facility in Utah that can store up to five zettabytes of data.  Secret “electronic monitoring rooms” embedded within the facilities of major communications companies across the United States send an endless flow of digital information to this facility, and most Americans have no idea that this is even happening.  The following comes from Wired

Before yottabytes of data from the deep web and elsewhere can begin piling up inside the servers of the NSA’s new center, they must be collected. To better accomplish that, the agency has undergone the largest building boom in its history, including installing secret electronic monitoring rooms in major US telecom facilities. Controlled by the NSA, these highly secured spaces are where the agency taps into the US communications networks, a practice that came to light during the Bush years but was never acknowledged by the agency. The broad outlines of the so-called warrantless-wiretapping program have long been exposed—how the NSA secretly and illegally bypassed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which was supposed to oversee and authorize highly targeted domestic eavesdropping; how the program allowed wholesale monitoring of millions of American phone calls and email. In the wake of the program’s exposure, Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which largely made the practices legal. Telecoms that had agreed to participate in the illegal activity were granted immunity from prosecution and lawsuits.

Whistleblowers have come forward again and again to warn us about what was happening, but they have largely been ignored.  One of the most prominent whistleblowers was former NSA employee William Binney

Binney left the NSA in late 2001, shortly after the agency launched its warrantless-wiretapping program. “They violated the Constitution setting it up,” he says bluntly. “But they didn’t care. They were going to do it anyway, and they were going to crucify anyone who stood in the way. When they started violating the Constitution, I couldn’t stay.” Binney says Stellar Wind was far larger than has been publicly disclosed and included not just eavesdropping on domestic phone calls but the inspection of domestic email. At the outset the program recorded 320 million calls a day, he says, which represented about 73 to 80 percent of the total volume of the agency’s worldwide intercepts. The haul only grew from there.

Can you imagine recording 320 million phone calls a day?

And that was at the beginning of the program – I can’t even imagine what the number must be these days.

But even if you aren’t using your phone government spooks can still potentially be listening to you.  The following comes from a CNN article entitled “How the NSA can ‘turn on’ your phone remotely“…

Government spies can set up their own miniature cell network tower. Your phone automatically connects to it. Now, that tower’s radio waves send a command to your phone’s antennae: the baseband chip. That tells your phone to fake any shutdown and stay on.

A smart hack won’t keep your phone running at 100%, though. Spies could keep your phone on standby and just use the microphone — or send pings announcing your location.

John Pirc, who did cybersecurity research at the CIA, said these methods — and others, like physically bugging devices — let the U.S. hijack and reawaken terrorists’ phones.

Unfortunately, these tactics are not just used against “terrorists”.

The truth is that these tactics are employed against anyone that the NSA is interested in, and in fact they could be listening to you right now.

Thanks to Edward Snowden, we have learned quite a bit about how the NSA takes over digital devices…

The latest story from the Edward Snowden leaks yesterday drives home that the NSA and its spy partners possess specialized tools for doing exactly that. According to The Intercept, the NSA uses a plug-in called GUMFISH to take over cameras on infected machines and snap photos.

Another NSA plug-in called CAPTIVATEDAUDIENCE hijacks the microphone on targeted computers to record conversations.

Intelligence agencies have been turning computers into listening devices for at least a decade, as evidenced by the Flame spy tool uncovered by Kaspersky Lab in 2012, which had the ability to surreptitiously turn on webcams and microphones and perform a host of other espionage operations.

So what can you do to prevent this from happening?

If you have external webcams and microphones, you can unplug them when they are not in use.

If you have a built-in camera, some have suggested covering the camera with a sticker.

And of course pulling out the battery entirely will prevent someone from taking over your phone when you are not using it.

But at the end of the day, it is going to be really hard to keep government spooks out of your electronic devices completely.  They have become extremely sophisticated at using these devices to get what they want, and they will literally go after just about anyone.

For example, just consider what they did to former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson.  In her recent book, she details a campaign of digital harassment that sounds like something out of a spy novel.  The following comes from the Washington Post

The breaches on Attkisson’s computer, says this source, are coming from a “sophisticated entity that used commercial, nonattributable spyware that’s proprietary to a government agency: either the CIA, FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency, or the National Security Agency (NSA).” Attkisson learns from “Number One” that one intrusion was launched from the WiFi at a Ritz Carlton Hotel and the “intruders discovered my Skype account handle, stole the password, activated the audio, and made heavy use of it, presumably as a listening tool.”

To round out the revelations of “Number One,” he informs Attkisson that he’d found three classified documents deep inside her operating system, such that she’d never know they were even there. “Why? To frame me?” Attkisson asks in the book.

If they can do all of that to Sharyl Attkisson, they can do it to Donald Trump too.

Trump needs to understand that the deep state is trying to destroy him, and that everything that he says and does is being monitored.

So until Trump can completely clean house at all of our intelligence agencies, he is going to have to be extremely careful 24 hours a day.

And let us hope that Trump is ultimately victorious in his struggle against the deep state, because the future of this nation is literally hanging in the balance.

Finca Bayano

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