Newt Gingrich Spreads Seth Rich Murder Theory

Newt Gingrich claimed that a Democratic National Committee staffer “apparently was assassinated” after “having given WikiLeaks something like … 53,000 [DNC] emails and 17,000 attachments.” But there’s no evidence for his claim.

The former Republican House speaker is spreading a conspiracy theory about the killing of Seth Rich, who was shot to death in Washington, D.C., in the early morning hours of July 10, 2016, in what local police have described as a likely botched robbery.

The unsubstantiated claim about Rich’s murder got legs recently after Fox 5 in Washington, D.C., reported — and a day later largely retracted — that the FBI completed a forensic report on Rich’s computer and found that he had transferred 44,053 DNC emails and 17,761 attachments to WikiLeaks.

Fox 5 aired those details on the morning of May 16, based on the work of a private investigator, Rod Wheeler, who was hired by a third party with the consent of Rich’s family. But later that evening, Wheeler told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that he had no evidence that Rich was in contact with WikiLeaks.

“Maybe it is related to the DNC. We don’t know that. We don’t know that for sure,” Wheeler told Hannity. “It could have been a botched robbery.” (Read more from “Newt Gingrich Spreads Seth Rich Murder Theory” HERE)

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Veterans Claim They Were Duped Into Lobbying for Saudis

With all the worry about Russian influence over U.S. elections it’s easy to overlook the many foreign interests working to impact U.S. policy every day–through paid lobbying.

American lobbyists have made billions working for foreign entities. Who’s paying whom for what is subject to federal disclosure laws. But the system may not always work as intended. In the latest episode of “Full Measure” we investigated a case in point: some U.S. military vets who claim they were duped into lobbying for the wrong side.

This twisted tale of Washington, D.C., lobbying begins in an unlikely place. With a rock band from Utah.

That’s Tim Cord singing … his brother on lead guitar … both Iraq war vets.

Tim Cord, U.S. Military veteran: My brother and I were in a rock band called American Hitmen … so we’ve kind of made a name for ourselves in the music scene as veterans.

They hoped to play at President Donald Trump’s inauguration. But when that gig didn’t come through, a political contact they’d met on the road offered what sounded like a decent consolation prize.

Cord: He just said it’s going to be an all-expensive, all-expense paid trip for four days basically to see how D.C. works is basically how they worded it.

Shortly before the January trip, one organizer sent an email mentioning a political angle: a new law called “JASTA”—the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act.

It allows families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia for any alleged ties to the Islamic extremist terrorist attacks.

Cord: We thought we were going to just go hang out in … D.C. and basically see politicians, see this, meet with this group of vets that were there to talk about the JASTA bill.

The trip to the Capitol began with open bar at a luxurious hotel with retired generals and Purple Heart recipients.

Folders were handed out claiming JASTA was disastrous for veterans. Then came an odd announcement, Cord says, from organizer Jason Johns—a veterans’ advocate.

Cord: Jason Johns stood up and he said, ‘Thank you all so much for coming … we want to protect the veterans and I know there’s a lot of rumors going around but we can assure you there’s no Saudi money behind this.’ … I don’t think any of us, at least at my table, had even thought about the Saudis. It was just kind of a weird statement to make opening night.

He says things got stranger the next day when they were split into groups to visit Senate offices to promote supposed improvements to JASTA.

Cord: Every time we would go into one of their offices, they would say, ‘Who are you here on behalf of?’ And whoever was our group leader would say, like flat out, “Oh no, we’re just a group of concerned vets volunteering our time.

That night, he says, his suspicions were confirmed by a drunk confession from an organizer.

Cord: I said, ‘So, by the way, who’s paying for all of this?’ And he’s like, ‘Dude, it’s the Kingdom.’ And I said, ‘The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, man.’ So this was unraveling into something that I wanted no part of. We joined the Marine Corps after 9/11. I mean 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudis, so I don’t want anything to do with the Saudi Arabian Kingdom or their money.

Cord says he shared the news with his group and confronted the contact who first invited him on the trip.

Cord: He goes, ‘Well, welcome to politics, Tim. It’s either Obama and the Iranians or the Republicans and the Saudis. Welcome to Washington.’ It came to the realization that my brother and I were sitting there eating catered dinner on the Saudi dime in an attempt to shoot down the 9/11 victims’ families lawsuit against the Saudi Arabian Kingdom. It was probably one of the worst feelings I’ve had in my life.

Lydia Dennett, Project on Government Oversight: That seemed to be a tactic from recruiting veterans to talk about the negative implications of this law and to do so in a way that sort of obscured Saudi Arabian involvement in it.

Lydia Dennett is an investigator with the nonprofit watchdog Project on Government Oversight … which has been tracking Saudi lobbying efforts.

Dennett: Because it was done through this lobbying firm, the veterans themselves, and the public, may not have known that these were talking points and issues that were coming from the Saudi Arabian government. That sort of undermines the entire transparency and intent of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) of 1938 requires lobbyists for foreign interests to register and file reports.

Dennett: By the end of 2016, the Saudi Arabian government had 22 different lobbying firms to promote their interests in the U.S., of which were added in the fall of 2016 alone. Right around the time that JASTA was or the 9-11 bill was introduced, going through debate hearings, and then ultimately passed.

For example, a company called Qorvis has been on the Saudi payroll since two months after the 9/11 attacks. The original contract disclosed $200,000 a month in payments—$2.4 million a year.

Sharyl Attkisson: What do you sense the Saudis were trying to do when it comes to that bill?

Dennett: They were trying to get their message out there, which was that it was a dangerous bill that would set a dangerous precedent across the world.

That messaging flooded the media … that JASTA would cause foreign countries to retaliate and sue our military personnel in foreign courts. Which is the argument President Barack Obama made in September when he vetoed the bill.

Former President Barack Obama: That concern that I have has nothing to do with Saudi Arabia per se or my sympathy for 9/11 families. It has to do with me not wanting a situation in which we’re suddenly exposed to liabilities from all the work that we’re doing around the world.

But Congress overrode the veto. So Qorvis sprang into action, hiring none other than the man who would go on to help organize the Washington, D.C., trip: Jason Johns. It turns out he’s not just a veterans’ advocate. He owns a lobby firm of his own and officially registered to lobby elected officials on behalf of Saudi Arabia.

Cord: We found out afterward, that Jason Johns was a registered Saudi agent, and he made $100,000, it’s on public record that he was paid $100,000 by the Kingdom and registered as a Saudi agent. That’s the guy that said in the beginning, ‘There’s a lot of rumors that this is Saudi money and it’s not, I can assure you.’

By email, Johns told us that vets with “ulterior motives” are issuing “mistruths and false allegations.” He declined our request for a one-on-one interview and insisted we interview “at least three other” unnamed vets he would arrange in a group setting with him. We explained that under news policies, we can’t agree to terms, such who we must interview. Johns added we shouldn’t focus on “a few veterans feeling they were ‘duped’ but … why hundreds … volunteered to go to D.C. and speak about why amending JASTA is so vital to them, our currently serving military, and our national security.”

Qorvis declined our interview requests but has previously denied deceiving veterans, said it reports disclosures accurately, and it’s “hard to believe anyone would feel they didn’t know why they were in Washington.

Attkisson: Saudi Arabia might say everything we did was perfectly legal. U.S. law allows them to hire people in this country and lobby for their interests. What did they do wrong?

Dennett: In any written materials distributed, if there were emails sent to these veterans or their veteran groups, they’re required to say very clearly in there, ‘This is information, we’re being paid to distribute this information by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and more information is available at the Department of Justice.’ If the emails or any documents did not include that statement, then that’s a violation of the law.

In fact, an examination of some emails trip organizers allegedly sent to vets made no mention of Saudi lobbying. This one billed the D.C. trip as “basically like a 5-star vacation,” noting, “you don’t have to know anything about JASTA.”

Attkisson: Why should ordinary Americans care about this?

Dennett: The issues that these foreign countries are lobbying on can be everything from foreign aid to arms deals, … appropriated funds, which come from taxpayer dollars. So, the public deserves to know exactly how the policy is being made.

Cord says, in the end, one promise of his trip was fulfilled. He did learn a lot about how Washington works.

Cord: It was the worst feeling ever because there’s nothing I can do about it. My name will forever be on a ledger, my brother’s name will forever be on a ledger saying that we were wined and dined by the Saudis. And it’s not a good feeling. It sucks. (For more from the author of “Veterans Claim They Were Duped Into Lobbying for Saudis” please click HERE)

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Christian Artists’ Free Speech: Will SCOTUS Take up Vital Issue?

Should artists be forced to promote messages against their conscience? The Supreme Court could be taking up the question soon, if a recent lower-court ruling out of Kentucky is any indication.

Late last week, news broke that the Kentucky Court of Appeals sided with Hands On Originals, a print shop in the Bluegrass State, saying that business owner Blaine Adamson did not have to engage in business that conflicts with his religious beliefs. The ruling comes five years after he told a prospective client that he could not make T-shirts for a gay pride festival in 2012.

The Associated Press has more details:

Chief Judge Joy Kramer wrote in her opinion that the city’s ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation does not prohibit the owners of Hands On Originals from “engaging in viewpoint or message censorship.” Kramer said the business objected to the message of gay pride, not anyone’s sexual orientation.

“Thus, although the menu of services HOO provides to the public is accordingly limited, and censors certain points of view, it is the same limited menu HOO offers to every customer and is not, therefore, prohibited by the fairness ordinance,” the ruling states.

The legal question at hand is one of the biggest religious liberty issues facing the country, as religious business owners have faced a number of struggles following the 2015 “Obergefell v. Hodges” gay marriage decision and a slew of state-level LGBT laws that seek to eliminate traditional beliefs on marriage, biology, and sexuality from the marketplace.

Plaintiffs argue that not creating pro-LGBT messages amounts to class-based discrimination prohibited in federal law. Proponents argue that this is inaccurate and that it constitutes abstaining from an action based on belief – a long-respected protection of the First Amendment.

The Kentucky ruling differs from other recent lower-court rulings on similar questions. The Washington Supreme Court ruled that a Christian florist was not within her rights to decline serving a same-sex wedding ceremony.

Now that the lower courts have split in their opinions, the issue is more appealing for the U.S. Supreme Court, Jim Campbell, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, tells Conservative Review. ADF is the pro-religious liberty legal nonprofit representing Blaine Adamson in Kentucky.

The case to watch now is that of owner Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cake Shop in Lakewood, Colo. Phillips was recently turned down by the Colorado Supreme Court after the Colorado Civil Rights Commission previously found him guilty of discrimination, but it could very well be on the docket for the next judicial session in D.C.

(As ADF notes, “In contrast to the ruling against Phillips, the commission found last year that three other Denver cake artists were not guilty of creed discrimination when they declined a Christian customer’s request for a cake that reflected his religious opposition to same-sex marriage.”)

“They’re holding [the case] for two months now, which is kind of odd,” Campbell says. “Whenever they’re holding something, it obviously means that it’s caught someone’s attention. Which is a good sign … because the default is to be denied.” He says a decision on the petition could come as soon as Monday.

There are a handful of other cases that all evaluate the intersection of conscience rights, free expression, and non-discrimination that are currently working through the courts. Should the current petition on Masterpiece be denied, these cases will likely continue to work their own ways up in its stead.

But there are still many variables in this equation. Despite the messianic treatment Neil Gorsuch received from many conservatives, and as often as he is used as the go-to counter-example to complaints about Trump’s betrayals on a host of other issues (like immigration and religious liberty), one must remember that there are still eight other justices on the high bench. In replacing Antonin Scalia, the balance of the court was restored to the same makeup that gave the American people decisions like “Obergefell” and “Windsor.”

Hopeful rumors are currently buzzing around the beltway conservative enclaves about the prospect of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement this summer. If true, the vacant seat and nuclear appointment rules would give the Trump administration the ability to tip the balance of the bench in a more originalist direction, which would bode well for any of these cases. But this nothing more than speculation and rumor at this point.

A multitude of factors affect the final outcome. Will the First Amendment be weakened or buttressed in post-Obergefell America? It would appear that the answer will not have to wait very long — at least on judicial time. (For more from the author of “Christian Artists’ Free Speech: Will SCOTUS Take up Vital Issue?” please click HERE)

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Underreported: How This Nonprofit Is Solving Homelessness Without Government Funding

Growing up, Teena Faison never imagined she’d find herself a single mom and homeless.

“We didn’t wake up one day and go, ‘Hey, I just want to be homeless with my kids,’” she told The Daily Signal “No. There’s many, many contributing factors to that—lack of education, lack of resources, addiction.”

At 34 years old, Faison decided to change her ways and go to Solutions for Change, a family homeless nonprofit located in Vista, California, 45 minutes outside San Diego. Instead of simply providing residents a place to sleep, Solutions for Change takes a holistic approach to solving homelessness, requiring residents to go through counseling, take courses in financial literacy, parenting, leadership, and anger management, and eventually, get a job.

Over the past 17 years, Solutions for Change has gotten 1,200 families off government assistance and back on their feet. But because its program requires residents to be drug-free, Solutions for Change is ineligible to receive government funding.

Watch the video to learn more about why, despite its high success rates at solving family homelessness, Solutions for Change chose to maintain its drug-free policy instead of accepting government funding. (For more from the author of “Underreported: How This Nonprofit Is Solving Homelessness Without Government Funding” please click HERE)

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Rage at Rubio’s Bible Tweets: More Evidence of Troubling Bias Against Christians

Imagine if some Muslim member of Congress went on Twitter to share some harmless verses from the Quran — from the “happy parts” composed early on in Muhammad’s life, where he calls for peace and mercy.

Or if a Jewish member of Congress plucked some uplifting phrases out of the Talmud.

Or if a Californian member of Congress had offered something from the Dalai Lama.

Would it cause a controversy? I certainly hope not. I’d be especially troubled if Christian journalists raised a ruckus. If they pretended that a legislator doing this on his own Twitter account was a threat to American Christians, I’d consider those journalists idiots or bigots. They’d recall the classic character Gob Bluth on Arrested Development, who heckled a harmless student from India, with “Go home, you terrorist!”

But Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post, and a number of other journalists, have apparently taken Gob Bluth as a role model. They’ve responded with shock and outrage to the following: Yesterday morning Catholic U.S. Senator Marco Rubio posted some phrases from the Bible on Twitter. (In fact, they were from the readings at the day’s daily Mass.) Here’s one:

Pretty ominous, huh? As if that weren’t enough, Sen. Rubio next went full-on Old Testament, posting these blood and thunder lines from Proverbs:

Isn’t your skin just crawling? What kind of moral monster would use his prestige as a U.S. legislator to share sentiments like that? Surely, this is the camel’s nose poking under the tent, making way for a full-on Christian theocracy, just like we saw on Netflix in The Handmaid’s Tale.

The Palm Beach Post helpfully compiled reactions which were almost that hysterical. Here’s The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin:

Esquire politics blogger Charles P. Pierce’s response was even more … fragile:

Leah McElrath writes for leftwing website Shareblue — and pledges in her Twitter profile to “#RESIST Trump, GOP, & global rise of white nationalist authoritarianism.” McElrath found Rubio’s Bible Tweets a positively creepy:

Normally I’d just shrug this off as part of the ordinary friction that comes in a free society when people of different views and beliefs rub up against each other. Sen. Rubio himself, apparently bemused, took to retweeting these crackpot reactions himself, without comment. A canny reaction.

Christians Need Not Apply

But put this in context. For centuries, American Christians were a vast and highly tolerant majority. Now the tenor of culture and laws has changed so drastically, that we are becoming an unpopular minority. Perhaps one not to be tolerated.

We got that message from the campaign of destruction launched against President Trump’s appointee for Army Secretary Mark Green. Green was forced to withdraw after Democrats denounced him as a hatemonger. What had Green said that outraged them?

He took the 6,000-year-old Jewish and Christian position on marriage: that it’s between a man and a woman.

Green stated the simple fact that gender dysphoria (transgenderism) is a mental disorder.

He characterized the Muslim horde that invaded, raped, and pillaged Constantinople in 1453 as a “Muslim horde.” (Maybe he should have been more tactful, and called them a “flow of immigrants.”)

Those positions made him unfit for public office in 2017 America. It’s the same America where the Governor of New Jersey just refused to ban child marriages out of respect for Islam, but Christian bakers and florists are force to service same-sex weddings. The same America where worried conservative Christians gave Donald Trump almost 80 percent of their votes … and couldn’t even get him to overturn Obama’s executive orders targeting them. Where Christian schools have to fight all the way to the Supreme Court to get public funds for playground safety. But public universities like U.C. Berkeley spend millions building “genderless” locker rooms to cater to the tragic pathologies of “transgender” students.

That’s how weak and vulnerable we have become. We don’t have the clout of the transgender lobby.

Scapegoating the Once Powerful

There’s no group that’s easier to get away with hating than one that was once quite powerful, which loses its grip. Think of the fate of noblemen in France after 1789, priests in Russia after 1917, or once-elite Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994.

In cases like those, people in the newly powerful group can indulge in open hatred for members of the now-dethroned minority. They can hide it behind past “abuses” (real or imagined). They can target innocent people, whip up resentment, encourage discrimination, even get the government to persecute helpless people — whose crime is that they belong to the group that fell from power.

This scapegoating has nothing to do with justice. Instead it’s a naked exercise in bullying. (For more from the author of “Rage at Rubio’s Bible Tweets: More Evidence of Troubling Bias Against Christians” please click HERE)

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Ann Coulter Ready to Jump Ship on Trump Over Obama Amnesty, the Wall, Other Broken Promises

Conservative author Ann Coulter was one of the most vocal supporters of Donald Trump during the presidential campaign.

She wrote “In Trump We Trust” and proclaimed that she worships him like the “people of North Korea worship their Dear Leader – blind loyalty.”

Coulter described herself as a single-issue voter during the election and was drawn to Trump due to his “Mexican rapist speech” and him calling for a border wall to be built.

In an interview Sunday with The Daily Caller, Coulter let it be known she still has hope in the Trump presidency, but is ready to jump ship.

[Question:] So there’s no wall, and Obama’s amnesties look like they are here to stay. Do you still trust Trump?

[Answer:] Uhhhh. I’m not very happy with what has happened so far. I guess we have to try to push him to keep his promises. But this isn’t North Korea, and if he doesn’t keep his promises I’m out. This is why we voted for him. I think everyone who voted for him knew his personality was grotesque, it was the issues. (Read more from “Ann Coulter Ready to Jump Ship on Trump Over Obama Amnesty, the Wall, Other Broken Promises” HERE)

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McMaster on WaPo Claim Trump Gave Russians Highly Classified Info: ‘I Was in the Room, It Didn’t Happen’

The Washington Post ran a story late this afternoon claiming Donald Trump, in his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador, disclosed highly classified information, including information that could reveal sources and methods.

Despite the length of the story, the allegations of substance are all in this single paragraph:

Trump went on to discuss aspects of the threat that the United States learned only through the espionage capabilities of a key partner. He did not reveal the specific intelligence-gathering method, but he described how the Islamic State was pursuing elements of a specific plot and how much harm such an attack could cause under varying circumstances. Most alarmingly, officials said, Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat.

From that, WaPo argues:

The identification of the location was seen as particularly problematic, officials said, because Russia could use that detail to help identify the U.S. ally or intelligence capability involved. Officials said the capability could be useful for other purposes, possibly providing intelligence on Russia’s presence in Syria. Moscow would be keenly interested in identifying that source and perhaps disrupting it.

Russia and the United States both regard the Islamic State as an enemy and share limited information about terrorist threats. But the two nations have competing agendas in Syria, where Moscow has deployed military assets and personnel to support President Bashar al-Assad.

(Read more from “McMaster on WaPo Claim Trump Gave Russians Highly Classified Info: ‘I Was in the Room, It Didn’t Happen'” HERE)

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New Marine Corps Ad on Women in Combat Sparks Heated PC Debate

The Marine Corps’ first-ever recruitment video showing a woman in combat quickly devolved into a spat about political correctness after it was posted to Facebook.

The recruitment commercial, called “Battle Up,” shows a young girl confronting bullies, playing rugby and then evolving into a Marine later in life, at which point she leads other Marines and engages in a firefight through an ambush. The final scene shows her helping the homeless. Marine Capt. Erin Demochko, who served in Afghanistan, played the woman.

The video has already racked up almost half a million views after being posted to the Marine Corps’ official Facebook page Friday.

Almost as soon as the commercial appeared on Facebook, conversation devolved into a spat about political correctness. The first comment by Facebook user Chris Clark reads: “had to be a chick…tired of all this political correct bull****…. now let all the man haters come out of the woodwork…”

Immediately, the Marine Corps page responded and said: “That’s not a “chick”, Chris. You’re watching a Marine.” (Read more from “New Marine Corps Ad on Women in Combat Sparks Heated PC Debate” HERE)

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Liberals Boo God and Natural Rights at GOP Town Hall

At a rambunctious town hall in his district, Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., ran into something he probably never expected to see in his district: voters booing the concept of fundamental, God-given rights.

“As a seminary graduate, do you believe in the separation of church and state?” the questioner began. “Would it be acceptable for you for churches to support specific candidates?”

The question was in reference to the Johnson Amendment, which President Trump recently gutted somewhat with his lackluster order on religious liberty.

“Absolutely,” Brat initially answered, cautioning that he was asked “a loaded question.”

“It’s in the Constituiton. They got it pretty good,” Brat said amidst the crows of hecklers.

“The politics shouldn’t establish any religion, right?” Brat added, to a response of claps and cheers. “But you should all, under the First Amendment, have the free expression thereof.”

But he took the argument deeper, asking an enthusiastic audience if they wanted a “total separation of state,” and cautioning that he did not think such an arrangement would be a good thing.

“Some of you have said that health care is a right,” the congressman explained. “And in the Western tradition, rights come from God. The role of government is to protect those rights.”

The hecklers responded with a chorus of sustained boos.

The question and its response came during a Tuesday night event – his first since the House’s most-recent health care vote – and was attended by hundreds, and fraught with jeers.

In an op-ed published the day after, the Richmond-Times Dispatch’s editorial board lauded the congressman for attempting to engage in civil discourse while excoriating the crowd’s “astonishing rudeness.”

“People have every right to rage at their congressmen, their president, or anybody else they care to,” the board stated. “After a while, though, the emotional vomiting gets old … when did banging on a high chair with a spoon ever lead to a solution?

(The below clip shows most of the townhall with Rep. Brat:)

Brat’s answer about rights was not wrong, of course. This republic was founded by men of different faiths who had a common understanding that their rights came from a transcendent, pre-political source, and established a system of government to ensure that these inalienable rights would be protected, rather than metered out by kings and demagogues.

Our denominationally neutral Declaration of Independence reflects this, appealing to the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” as the font from which our fundamental liberties and inherent equality spring.

Apparently, the concept of rights coming from God – or civil discourse in general – just wasn’t what Rep. Brat’s constituents showed up to hear that night. (For more from the author of “Liberals Boo God and Natural Rights at GOP Town Hall” please click HERE)

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New Vaccine Study Shows Unvaccinated Children Have Significantly Less Health Problems

In this video, Vin Armani explains the trade-off with vaccines. Like any pharmaceutical they have side effects. A brand new study on homeschoolers shows unvaccinated children have significantly less health problems as vaccinated children. Is the small chance that your child gets measles or mumps worth a lifetime of hay fever or asthma?

(For more from the author of “New Vaccine Study Shows Unvaccinated Children Have Significantly Less Health Problems” please click HERE)

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