Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Yurok Tribe Tosses Cap in Trade Ring

Posted By on Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 8:38 AM


The Yurok Tribe has entered the carbon trade market, joining with sustainable forestry investment group New Forests Inc. to sell carbon credits based on a 7,660-acre patch of Doug fir and mixed hardwood forest the tribe's promised to manage for increased carbon sequestration. The tribe will be issued 704,520 credits, according to a news release from New Forests.

This will be "the first forest carbon offset project developed under the California Compliance Offset Protocol – U.S. Forest Projects, a standard adopted by the California Air Resources Board for use in the California cap and trade program," says the release. "The project’s registration is a significant milestone in the development of the offset market in the California cap and trade system."

So that's big. Notes Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr., Chairman of the Yurok Tribal Council, in the news release:

“This carbon offset project will foster the restoration of a significant swath of forest. Our partnership with New Forests will provide the Tribe with the means to boost biodiversity, accelerate watershed restoration, and increase the abundance of important cultural resources like acorns, huckleberry and hundreds of medicinal plants that thrive in a fully functioning forest ecosystem.”

And it will make the tribe money, says Brian Shillinglaw, associate director of New Forests Inc. “This project marks the first time that a regulatory carbon offset market has created a financial incentive for leaving a tree standing, placing a financial value on the carbon sequestration services that forests provide. The California carbon market will incentivize sustainable forestry, forest conservation and improved wildlife habitat on both industrial and non-industrial timberlands throughout the United States."

Now, you might be wondering about one of those other "first carbon offset" projects in our neck of the woods: the Van Eck Forest. Well, that project was the first carbon offset project that California Climate Action Registry (CCAR) verified under its new protocols, back in 2007, as a valid sustainable carbon-offsetting project. Other projects similarly were verified, including the Yurok Tribe's. The tribe's is the first California project advanced to the next level, entering the cap and trade stage.

You can read more about the Van Eck here and here.


The news release:

New Forests and Yurok Tribe Register First Compliance Forest Carbon Offset Project for California Carbon Market

KLAMATH AND SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA (February 11, 2014) – New Forests and the Yurok Tribe announced today the successful registration of the first forest carbon offset project developed under the California Compliance Offset Protocol – U.S. Forest Projects, a standard adopted by the California Air Resources Board for use in the California cap and trade program. The Yurok Tribe/Forest Carbon Partners CKGG Improved Forest Management project will be issued 704,520 offset credits. The project’s registration is a significant milestone in the development of the offset market in the California cap and trade system.

The project encompasses 7,660 acres of Douglas-Fir and mixed hardwood forest near the Klamath River in Northern California. By registering the Improved Forest Management project and selling carbon offsets in the California cap and trade system, the Yurok Tribe has made a legal commitment to maintain current forest carbon stocks and to manage the forest for both increased carbon sequestration and sustainable timber production. The project will generate significant revenue for the Yurok Tribe, assisting in the protection of their forest for future generations and supporting the Tribe’s continued management of their ancestral homeland. The project will also support watershed rehabilitation to improve forest diversity and reduce runoff that adversely affects salmon populations.

Through its Forest Carbon Partners, L.P. investment fund, forestry investment manager New Forests has provided offset project finance and managed all aspects of project development and offset credit sales for the project. The Yurok project is one of six forest carbon offset projects currently under development by New Forests for the California carbon market. SCS Global Services provided offset verification services for the project. The project was registered with the Climate Action Reserve.

“This carbon offset project will foster the restoration of a significant swath of forest,” said Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr., Chairman of the Yurok Tribal Council. “Our partnership with New Forests will provide the Tribe with the means to boost biodiversity, accelerate watershed restoration, and increase the abundance of important cultural resources like acorns, huckleberry and hundreds of medicinal plants that thrive in a fully functioning forest ecosystem.”

“With the successful registration of the Yurok Project, we are demonstrating that the rigorous California compliance offset protocol can deliver real financial and environmental benefits to forest landowners in California and across the nation,” said Brian Shillinglaw, Associate Director, New Forests Inc. “This project marks the first time that a regulatory carbon offset market has created a financial incentive for leaving a tree standing, placing a financial value on the carbon sequestration services that forests provide. The California carbon market will incentivize sustainable forestry, forest conservation and improved wildlife habitat on both industrial and non-industrial timberlands throughout the United States.”


About Forest Carbon Partners and New Forests

Forest Carbon Partners, L.P. is a leading supplier of forest carbon offsets to the California cap and trade system. An investment vehicle managed by New Forests Inc. of San Francisco, Forest Carbon Partners offers forest carbon offset project finance and development services to private forest landowners nationwide. The fund manages all aspects of project evaluation, development, registration, and credit sales, delivering improved timberland revenue to landowners and a reliable supply of high-quality offsets to California compliance buyers. New Forests Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of New Forests Pty Limited of Sydney, Australia. The New Forests group (www.newforests.com.au) manages investments in sustainable forestry and associated environmental markets for institutional investors. The company has offices in Sydney, Singapore and San Francisco and currently manages over AU$2 billion in funds and assets and over 1,000,000 acres of land in Australia, the United States and Asia.

About the Yurok Tribe

The Yurok Tribe is a natural resource-based tribe and the largest in California. Its reservation is centered one mile on either side of the Klamath River, from the Pacific Ocean upstream 44 miles. The Tribe is on the cutting edge of natural resource management and a leader in tribal forest carbon offset projects under the California cap and trade system. The Tribe maintains carbon projects on over 30,000 acres of Tribal land. These projects further Tribal values in anadromous fish protection and restoration, biodiversity, healthy forests, and clean water.

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Trouble Brewing

Posted By on Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 5:34 PM

Humboldt Brewing Co., formerly Nectar Ales, is redesigning its packaging to more prominently showcase the company's Humboldt roots. The older labeling, pictured above, will be replaced with scenes of redwood trees, ferns and the word "Humboldt" scrawled in cursive.
  • Humboldt Brewing Co., formerly Nectar Ales, is redesigning its packaging to more prominently showcase the company's Humboldt roots. The older labeling, pictured above, will be replaced with scenes of redwood trees, ferns and the word "Humboldt" scrawled in cursive.
The folks at Humboldt Made are hoping a labeling controversy might land a once-local beer’s brewing operations back on the North Coast.

The Humboldt Brewing Co.’s current incarnation has little to do with its county of origin. Sure, there are the colorful labels complete with images of towering redwoods and lush ferns. There’s the word “Humboldt” splashed across every bottle and six pack. There’s even the “Humboldt, CA” that pops up next to the company name after a quick Google search. But, the fact is, the beer isn’t brewed in Humboldt County, and hasn’t been for more than a decade. You can’t even buy any of Humboldt Brewing Co.’s five beers at most local stores  (the new BevMo in Eureka is the only place in the county that carries any of them).

The situation was enough to draw the ire of Humboldt Made, which — after looking into a variety of potential legal actions only to find Humboldt Brewing Co. isn’t afoul of any laws — is writing a polite letter asking the company to move its brewing operations to a locale that would better represent its namesake.

The story of how Humboldt Brewing Co. wound up repping Humboldt while brewing its beer in Paso Robles is interesting, if a bit convoluted. Here’s the streamlined version: Founded in 1987 in Arcata, the company outgrew its production facility and, in 2000, outsourced its brewing the Firestone Walker Brewing Co. in Paso Robles. In 2005, Firestone Walker bought out Humboldt Brewing Co., whose owners had moved on to doing other things, including starting HumBrews in Arcata. After the buyout, Firestone Walker renamed the Humboldt Brewing Co. as Nectar Ales, but retained the label’s flagship brews, Hemp Ale and Red Nectar.

In 2012, Firestone Walker was reportedly wanting to refocus its efforts into its own line of brews and sold Nectar Ales — which was producing about 10,000 barels a year — to Total Beverage Solutions, a beer and wine distributing heavyweight based in North Carolina. In November of last year, Total Beverage Solutions announced that it was dumping the Nectar Ales label and reverting back to the original Humboldt Brewing Co. name.

The rebranding was aimed at better showcasing “the spirit of the brand,” Total Beverage Solutions VP of Sales and Marketing Tom Rose said in a press release announcing the change, adding that the beer recipes would remain the same in spite of the makeover.

And just what is the “spirit” of Humboldt? Let’s see how its summed up on the brewing company’s website:

“Geographically, Humboldt County is located on the northern coast of California. Yet tucked away amongst the ancient towering redwoods and along the vast rocky Californian coast exists a way of life as independent as it is beautiful. It’s a place where ‘live and let live’ are the laws of the land and ‘going green’ has had a different meaning for generations. The idea of preservation and living in unison with one’s surroundings is not some fad but ingrained in the soul of the community. At peace in its own world, Humboldt County does not adhere to corporate memos, to-do lists or stuffy suits. The only thing on today’s agenda is to live life and drink good beer.”

Well, some in Humboldt also don’t adhere to what they see as out-of-towners capitalizing on the Humboldt name. Angie Schwab, executive director of the nonprofit Humboldt Made, said the Humboldt Brewing Co. situation was brought to her attention recently and doesn’t sit well with her.

“It upsets me to see the word ‘Humboldt’ on their website,” Schwab said.

Humboldt Made looked into trademark and consumer confusion laws to see if it could force Humboldt Brewing Co. to change its course through litigation, but Schwab said the organization found no legal recourse. Instead, she said, she’ll be penning a polite letter asking Total Beverage Solutions to relocate Humboldt Brewing Co. operations back to Humboldt.

Not everyone sees things the same way as Schwab, however. Barbara Groom, who owns Eureka’s Lost Coast Brewery, said she doesn’t think its fair to say the company is using the “Humboldt” name to sell beer. Total Beverage Solutions, she said, is probably just interested in buying struggling brands (like Nectar Ales) at a cheap price and then using their extensive existing distribution network to try to beef up sales.

“They have done it with other brands that have lost sales because of neglect,” Groom said in an e-mail.

Groom also noted that “we must not assume that everything that is named Humboldt is named after us,” noting that South Dakota, Nebraska, Illinois, Iowa, Tennessee and other states have cities named Humboldt, Chicago and Milwaukee boast parks named Humboldt and Buffalo has a Humboldt Parkway. Berlin even has a Humboldt University. Alexander von Humboldt and his brother, William, were pretty famous dudes, after all.

But that still doesn’t change the interesting timing of the Nectar Ales name change. In an interview with the website BeerPulse after the 2012 purchase, Total Beverage Solutions CEO Dave Pardus said that while Nectar Ales, now Humboldt Brewing Co., was largely a west coast brand, Total Beverage Solutions intended to begin distributing it on the east coast “in a year or so.”

One of Humboldt Brewing Co.’s more popular offerings is Hemp Ale. When slinging Hemp Ale from a virtually unknown brewery on the east coast, one can imagine a company having a bit better luck with the word “Humboldt” on the label.

Total Beverage Solutions media contact Courtney Gibson did not immediately return a call seeking comment for this story. If she gets back to the Journal, we’ll update this story.

While Schwab remains hopeful her letter might bring Humboldt Brewing Co.’s production back to the north coast, she pointed to the issue — and the instance of a foreign clothing company marketing sweatshirts with “Humboldt” scrawled on them — as signs that Humboldt’s name recognition is doing well.

“If nothing comes out of this and we can’t create a productive solution, then we have to be happy that we’re making some progress on a national an international level, that people see value in products that are made here in Humboldt County,” she said.

To check out Humboldt Brewing Co.’s website, click here.
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Sunday, February 9, 2014

County projecting large budget deficit

Posted By on Sun, Feb 9, 2014 at 4:53 PM

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It looks like the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will have some tough decisions to make in the coming months.

The board is slated to receive its mid-year budget update Tuesday, and the news is pretty grim. According to the staff report, County Administrative Officer Phillip Smith-Hanes is expected to tell the board that the county is looking at a projected $3.6 million shortfall in the county general fund for the 2014-15 fiscal year. Smith-Hanes estimates the county will go into 2014-15 with about $3.7 million in reserves. The board approved $2.9 in spending from the account this fiscal year to pay for liability fund expenses, economic development set aside, emergency management grant purchases and ambulance service in eastern Humboldt County, which drew the reserve fund balance down to about $2.8 million. Fortunately, the county is forecasting that it will end this year with about $900,000 more in revenue than it had budgeted.

Of the projected shortfall for 2014-15, about $1.2 million is a structural deficit — meaning recurring expenditures are far outpacing annual revenue estimates. Another $2 million is due to increased health insurance, retirement and worker’s compensation costs.

Smith-Hanes is recommending that the board prepare to shave $2 million in spending from next year’s budget by cutting “non-essential services,” restructering departments, improving county processes or “community partnership development.”

In an interview with the Times-Standard, Second District Supervisor Estelle Fennell said that — given the county’s long-term economic forecast — the board should look at this budget process as the “new normal.”

“We should look at combing some departments or combining services,” Fennell said.

County staff will look for some direction from the board Tuesday so it can begin preparing a full rundown of options for the board in advance of the July 1 start of the next fiscal year. Read Smith-Hanes’ full report here, and check out the full Times-Standard story here.
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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Court *Might* Start Charging for Records and Other Services

Posted By on Sat, Feb 8, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Be prepared to pony up for court records.

When the Journal  went into the court records office last week, an employee warned, somewhat admonishingly, that asking for a criminal case file without a case number would cost $15 in the future. "That's new," we thought. For years, court records employees have seemed happy to look up a case file by name — typically a quick process. It turns out that clerk didn't have it exactly right (and neither did we), but enforcement of court records fees is indeed likely to become more strict.

As Court Executive Officer Kerri Keenan explained, the fees have been on the books for almost 10 years — the most recent fee schedule, detailing the costs of all the services court records can provide, was updated in January and is available here.

Keenan’s worked in courts — Fresno County, before Humboldt — for 20 years. “There has always been a search fee — always.” It appears, at last week’s visit, that the clerk was referring to the $15 fee applied to “Searching records or files, for each search longer than 10 minutes.” (Fee number 184 on the fee schedule.) That’s for criminal or civil case files.

“I don’t think we've been executing the statute the way we should be,” Keenan said, adding that the court’s in the “early stages” of talking about how they will better implement the court fees.

For example, Keenan said, the court hasn't been charging people who request old files, which are kept in an off-site storage facility that the county pays to maintain.

“It’s not for profit,” Keenan said. “We’re just passing on the cost it takes us to do additional work. It’s somewhat sad, I suppose, that we can’t just do that for free anymore. With our reduction to the branch, that’s just the way it is.”

If you’re worried about getting charged for a records search, you can head up to the courthouse’s two public access rooms on the second floor. There, you can look up case numbers and view some documents — but not all — online. And take a look at the court’s fee schedule, which shows what you (might) be charged for documents and record requests.
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Friday, February 7, 2014

Updated: Friendly Fire: Police Association in Dispute with City

Posted By on Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 7:54 AM

Fortuna police officers seem to be experiencing some growing unfriendly feelings toward their city.
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Charles Ellebrecht, a sergeant with the department and president of the Fortuna Police Employees Association, took the podium during the public comment period of Monday’s council meeting and aired a grievance that it appears has long been simmering behind closed doors. At issue is a 3 percent raise the council approved for City Manager Regan Candelario back in September — a raise that the association claims puts the city in violation of its contract with police employees.

Reached by phone Thursday, Ellebrecht said the city and the association — which represents 15 department employees — reached an employment agreement last July, after months of negotiations. Because the city was in rough financial shape – facing a $500,000 budget deficit for 2013-14 fiscal year, according to reports in the Times-Standard – Ellebrecht said the association agreed to forgo its push for raises and cost of living adjustments. In return, the city assured the association that, in the interest of equity, if it gave raises to any other city employees, it would give equal raises to cops, dispatchers and police service officers.

“The parties agree that should any other city employees… receive an increase to wages, other than a merit increase for members of the city’s two bargaining units, during this agreement, all members of this bargaining unit would receive the same increase to be effective on the same date,” reads the agreement approved by the council Aug. 5, 2013.

Then, the city turned around and — after Candelario’s performance review by the council on Sept. 15 — gave the city manager a 3 percent raise to his $107,000 salary. The raise was a provision of the contract that Candelario, who is not a member of one of the city’s two bargaining units, signed in 2012. He’s also due a 5 percent bump later this year, pending another performance review.
candelario.jpg

The association’s take is that its members are now due a 3 percent raise, retroactive to the day of Candelario’s. But, according to Ellebrecht, Candelario is claiming no such raise is in order. The city manager, Ellebrecht said, told him the city would “vigorously” defend itself from any litigation brought by the association on the issue.

The Journal connected with Candelario on Tuesday, and the city manager the agreement reached with the association, and specifically the "me-too clause," was intended to be forward looking, pointing out that the raises written into his contract were agreed to by the council in 2012.

"If you're going to look backward on a me-too clause, then you're going to be giving raises based on every other (cost of living adjustment) that's been given in history," Candelario said. "It just seems absurd to me to think that was the intent of the city when we signed a tentative agreement that included the clause."

Council members didn’t have much to say on the issue. Councilman Dean Glaser said he was unaware of the situation until Ellebrecht’s comments Monday, and declined to comment further. Mayor Doug Strehl similarly declined to comment.

For his part, Ellebrecht said the issue isn’t doing anything good for morale in the department, noting that Fortuna’s officers are already some of the lowest paid in the area and are policing an increased geographical area due to the annexation of Campton Heights and a growing population with the same number of cops.

“Officers are stretched thin and overworked, and I don’t feel they’re being fairly compensated,” Ellebrecht said.

Candelario said the city's intent is to treat all its employees equitably.

"The whole point of a me-too clause is we're going to try to be as fair as possible, and that's our intent: to be fair," he said.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

She's back...

Posted By on Wed, Feb 5, 2014 at 3:41 PM

DREW HYLAND
  • Drew Hyland
Remember that huge Navy ship that docked in Eureka for a bit last week? She's back.

The U.S.S. Independence, a 420-foot helicopter carrier and combat ship, returned to Humboldt Bay on Tuesday night and pulled back up to the Schneider Dock, where it refueled and picked up a spare part to fix one of its "three or four engines," according to Humboldt Bay Harbor, Conservation and Recreation District CEO Jack Crider.

The ship is reportedly doing some tests and trials in the area and will likely be heading back out to the open water some time Wednesday, Crider said. But, if you missed the sight of a gigantic warship in the bay, don't worry, Crider said the Independence will likely return Friday for another fuel stop.

For a look at the Independence in action, complete with some dramatic theme music, check out this video.

DREW HYLAND
  • Drew Hyland
DREW HYLAND
  • Drew Hyland
DREW HYLAND
  • Drew Hyland
DREW HYLAND
  • Drew Hyland

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Caltrans and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Posted By on Tue, Feb 4, 2014 at 1:17 PM

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Caltrans recently had what amounted to a very bad day.

Specifically, Jan. 30, when Caltrans lost a major appellate court ruling on perhaps its highest profile North Coast project and was the subject of a scathing state report.

First, the California Court of Appeals overturned a trial court decision and ruled that Caltrans must re-evaluate the environmental impact report for its proposed project to widen U.S. Highway 101 through Richardson Grove State Park. Specifically, the ruling found Caltrans violated the California Environmental Quality Act, and that its environmental impact report did not do enough to calculate the project’s potential impacts on old growth redwood trees in Richardson Grove.

The Environmental Protection Information Center — one of six plaintiffs in the case — hailed the court’s ruling as a victory.

“The significance of this ruling cannot be overstated,” said EPIC Executive Director Gary Graham Hughes in a press release. “Our ancient redwoods are invaluable, and we hope Caltrans gets the message that their survival cannot be put at risk by a careless highway development proposal.”

Caltrans spokesman Scott Burger said the agency could not provide an estimate as to how long it will take to revise the project's EIR, but the agency released a brief statement.

“Caltrans remains committed to delivering this important interregional transportation project in a sustainable way and will work to comply with the court’s ruling,” it said. “This project is planned and designed not to remove any old growth redwood trees. Measures are in place to protect the surrounding redwoods in the area.”

While many local businesses have clamored for the widening project — which they believe would decrease their costs by allowing larger shipping trucks to pass through the park — the ruling didn’t seem to cause much of a stir. Officials at both the Greater Eureka Area Chamber of Commerce and the Humboldt Small Business Development Center said they were unaware of it when recently contacted by the Journal.

Caltrans' day got worse when results of an independent review of the agency ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown were released and detailed a host of “long-standing problems.” Specifically, the review found that the agency’s mission, vision and goals are not aligned with the state’s current needs. The review also sharply criticized the agency for prioritizing new projects over the upkeep and maintenance of the state’s highway system. To read more about the report, see the Sacramento Bee’s story here.
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Monday, February 3, 2014

Humboldt's 'Swingin' Senior' Mecca

Posted By on Mon, Feb 3, 2014 at 10:45 PM

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Single Eureka elders rejoice, your city has been named one of the nation’s 13 best for swingin’ seniors!

Estately, an online real estate search site, released its list Monday, including Eureka as one of its prime destinations for retirees for whom “school districts no longer matter,” and who want somewhere to live that’s “fun and exciting, while also remaining clean, safe and relatively affordable.”

And just what, you might ask, warranted Eureka’s inclusion among the likes of Portland, San Francisco, Yuma, Ariz. and Cape Coral, Fla.? We’ll let the fine folks at Estately fill you in:

“Move to the largest West Coast city between San Francisco and Portland and you’ll be in good company; nearly half of the population is over the age of 55, with ladies outnumbering gents by several thousand. Hit up Eureka’s Bayshore Mall for all of your retail needs, and do your shopping at the region’s only Costco.”

Apparently, weather, crime rates, services and public transportation no longer sway the senior crowd. Check out Estately’s full list here.
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UPDATE(S): Deal Struck in Crabs Manager Marijuana Case

Posted By on Mon, Feb 3, 2014 at 3:17 PM

HUMBOLDTCRABS.COM
  • humboldtcrabs.com
SECOND UPDATE: A press release on the Crabs website says Nutter had been considering leaving the team for two years, and made the decision now to be with his family. 

From the release:

Nutter explained that after a discussion with his family, he decided after 23 years with the Crabs organization that this was a good time to take a break. “My daughters are nearing the time when they will go off to college and I haven’t had a summer with the family in a very long time,” Nutter said.

“The Crabs want to thank Matt for all his years not only as the manager, but as a former board member. Fortunately, Matt had warned us the past two years that he might make this kind of decision and he decided that this was the opportune time, especially after his phenomenal success as our skipper,” [Crabs President Vikki] Rossi said.

UPDATE: Tyson Fisher — a former Crabs assistant coach and current Fortuna High baseball coach has been chosen by the Crabs board of directors to take over the manager position. Via the Crabs Facebook page

Previously:

Crabs Manager Matt Nutter — who was arrested shortly after the end of last year’s baseball season on suspicion of growing and possessing marijuana for sale — appears to have reached a deal with prosecutors that could see the arrest and charges wiped from his record.

The deal, a diversion possible through section 1000 of the California Penal Code, is awaiting approval from a judge. Nutter had no prior convictions for drug offenses involving violence, or threatened violence, according to his attorney, Patrik Griego. And while police reported finding 265 marijuana plants at Nutter’s rural Blue Lake home in August, Griego said diversion was allowed if the plants were being cultivated for personal use.

“If you’re growing for purposes of selling you don’t qualify for PC 1000 diversion,” Griego said.

Continue reading »

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