Archive | June, 2012

Fans Urge Morales To “Keep On Trucking”

Posted on 29 June 2012 by Howard Copelan

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Support and words of encouragement continue to come in for Abraham “Trucker” Gonzales now almost a month on the run.

Abraham “Trucker” Morales has become something of a outlaw hero as he evades capture by local police.

Morales was arrested around 4:30 am Monday June 4, when they arrived to break up a fight at a local bar that he was not involved in and that was no longer going on. According to the police department press release Morales only obvious infraction was yelling them.

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Morales was handcuffed and placed in a patrol car for transport. Officers were then alerted to another fight at the same bar. As police investigated the second fight, Morales freed himself from the police vehicle and fled the scene while still handcuffed.

Morales’ escape and the police so far failure to recapture him has turned him to something of a hero especially in Wendover’s large Latino community.

“The most those cops have done is bring ICE into this town and take patents away from poor innocent children who’m they should be ptotecting, this is a small community in the first place shouldn’t they be a little more associated with the people living here?” Wrote one blogger on the Advocate’s webpage. “Instead they have been harassing this man and his poor mother and have threatend Abraham and his younger sister with a child whom is only 4 years old and is Abraham’s son telling them that if Abraham and his younger sister would not answer questions that had nothing to do with themselves that they were going to deport their mother who is a citizen of the United States. We need to do something as a community about these police officers. We have woman abusers, pedafiles, and unworthy crooked cops! How are we supposed to feel safe?”

But as Trucker grows in esteem, the failure of police to catch him is breeding ridicule on the department.

Other comments written by bloggers:

I hope that he is safe and that no harm has come to him and that he will do the right thing and give him self up so that his family can be spared any more threats. Life in NEVADA SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!! Vigilante cops and cruelty to humans seems to be par the course in that state glad I left never to return!!!!!!!!!!

HAHA Oh Trucker only you my friend!!! This is too funny, I’ll be surprised if they find him. Maybe they will “IF” trucker decides he wants them to. LMAO

Trucker for president.

The fact that Morales has remained free for now almost four weeks may indicate that he is receiving help in the community despite a public plea from police for assistance from the public.


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Boy, 14, Charged With Matricide, Faces Life

Posted on 29 June 2012 by Howard Copelan

A 14 year old Winnemucca boy is jail and facing a possible life sentence for the murder of his mother this week.

Colton Crouch, 14, was charged Tuesday on one count of open murder relating to the shooting death of his mother Twyla Crouch.

According to police reports Twyla Crouch, was found dead at their home at approximately 4:30 p.m. Monday. A firearm was found in the home.

Colton Crouch was seen running from the residence. He was apprehended by law enforcement, interviewed, and then booked into the adult detention center.

No possible motive for the shooting was released.

In Nevada, juveniles charged with murder are automatically tried as adults.

According to the victim’s facebook page, she was a happily married mother of three with Colton Crouch her youngest child.

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Few Letters For Patten, Born Psychopath Case For Leniency?

Posted on 29 June 2012 by Howard Copelan

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Will Kody Patten lose a popularity contest with Toni Fratto?

While his girl friend submitted close to two dozen letters from family and friends appealing for leniency before her sentencing the number of letters Kody Patten will submit could be half that, perhaps fewer.

According to the Elko County Clerks office Patten’s attorneys have submitted nothing so far in the form of character references. Scheduled to be sentence July 31, Patten pled guilty to first degree murder of Micaela “Mickie” Costanzo in a case that garnered international attention.

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Patten’s girlfriend Toni Fratto was sentence this April to 18 years to life on one count of second degree murder after striking a plea bargain with the Elko District Attorney office. Originally facing a first degree murder charge like her boyfriend District Attorney Marc Torvinen allowed the 19 year old teen to plead to the lesser charge in exchange for her testimony against Patten. According to Patten’s own attorney John Ohlson of Reno, Fratto’s testimony would have almost assured his client ending up on death row if the case went to trial.

Less than a week after Fratto was sentenced Patten also accepted a deal. In his case however the only thing Torvinen conceded in the deal was to take the death penalty off the table. Patten faces a possible sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

While facing a much harsher sentence for what can be argued is the same crime patten’s support from the community appears to be much less than Fratto’s.

Patten’s dearth of well wishers was not unexpected.

At least from the time he was 10 years old Kody Patten was considered a monster by almost everyone who had to deal with him with the exception of his parents.

“He was just an awful kid,” said one of his elementary school teachers who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “He attacked other students, used vulgar and obscene language. I couldn’t turn my back on him couldn’t even let him sit with the rest of the class. But the worst thing was that when you tried to discipline him his father Kip would come and threaten to sue the school. Kip would argue every single point of Kody’s infractions. Finally instead of suspending him for one thing a wrote out a list. I think the longest was 14 separate major infractions in one week.”

The younger Patten’s behavior was so out of control that he was taken out of the classroom by the time he was in 6th grade and by the time he was in junior high school, teachers actively sought to have him expelled.

A number of Kody’s teachers, myself included, argued regularly that he be expelled to protect students. The administration seemed intimidated by his parents,” wrote one of his Junior High School teacher’s on the Advocate’s web page

When contacted this week that teacher provided a litany of the younger Patten’s more egregious and memorable offenses.

“This was junior high, pre-teenagers, I never thought I would ever push for the expulsion of so young a kid but he was unbelievable,” the teacher said. “Like I said in my post, his parents mostly his dad Kip fought for him tooth and nail. I am all for dad’s sticking by their sons but it’s a father’s job to raise a good man not a murderer.”

Fratto on the other hand was described as a meek girl who was barely noticed in school. Daughter of pillars of the community Claude and Cassie Fratto, the fact that she had more character references than Patten would not be a surprise.

Patten’s defense may just argue that their client as evidence by his long history of violent behavior may have been unable to control himself during the commission of the crime and that Fratto used Patten as an attack dog to get rid of a rival. In fact patten’s attorney could well argue that their client is mentally ill and therefore not deserving of life behind bars.

Currently, there is no standard test for psychopathy in children, but a growing number of psychologists believe that psychopathy, like autism, is a distinct neurological condition — one that can be identified in children as young as 5. Crucial to this diagnosis are callous-unemotional traits, which most researchers now believe distinguish “fledgling psychopaths” from children with ordinary conduct disorder, who are also impulsive and hard to control and exhibit hostile or violent behavior. According to some studies, roughly one-third of children with severe behavioral problems like the aggressive disobedience also test above normal on callous-unemotional traits.

The idea that a young child could have psychopathic tendencies remains controversial among psychologists. Laurence Steinberg, a psychologist at Temple University, has argued that psychopathy, like other personality disorders, is almost impossible to diagnose accurately in children, or even in teenagers — both because their brains are still developing and because normal behavior at these ages can be misinterpreted as psychopathic.

There Patten may also have a viable argument for a lesser sentence or even an appeal.

Just this week the Supreme Court ruled that giving a life sentence to someone who committed his crime below the age of 18 was cruel and unusual punishment in part because of brain development studies.

While Patten was over 18 at the time of the murder he was barely so and his attorneys might be able to make the case that given his youth and his history life without the possibility of parole would in fact be a death sentence.

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The Joy Of Boom

Posted on 29 June 2012 by Howard Copelan

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Having lunch with Earl Cassorla is an experience. Soft spoken and erudite, Earl appears to be the average respectable middle aged businessman who has sober and respectable opinions about just about everything.

That is until we get to the subject of his business– fireworks.

While Earl’s knowledge of the subject is truly remarkable the change in his demeanor is astounding. A twinkle grows in his eyes and his hands literally dance in expression.

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This is a man talking with passion about his passion.

No, more than that this is the kid in the candy store.

Better yet this is a guy who owns a fireworks stand.

As the fancy of little and big boys turns to fireworks in the coming weeks many will make pilgrimage to Battle Mountain Nevada, the new Mecca for things that go boom in the night and make beautiful albeit fleeting pictures in the sky.

There inside Roller Coaster Fireworks they will meet their kindred, brothers Steven and Earl Cassorla who finally yielded to their dream eight years ago to run the greatest fireworks stand in the world.

The brothers dream was born over 40 years ago in Rochester, New York.

“Like all boys we loved fireworks,” said Earl. “And like a lot of little boys we made plans to have the greatest fireworks stand when we grew up.”

If not the greatest, Roller Coaster in Battle Mountain is still pretty good with aisle upon aisle of wonderful explosives guaranteed to satisfy the most ardent aficionado.

    But the Cassorla brothers  journey from 4th of July Rochester to year round Battle Mountain was neither smooth nor in a straight line. Middle class boys from upstate New York simply did not go into the fireworks business, they became lawyers and engineers.

And that is what the Cassorla brothers did. Steven went to the law and Earl is the electrical engineer. Yet even while they were fulfilling expectations in the classroom the brothers could not get fireworks out of their systems.

“When I was about 14 I went under the fence at the local baseball stadium show,” said Steven. “I wrote the name of the company putting on the show on my jacket and tried to blend in with the crew. Yeah, I was caught by the owner’s son. He took me to the old man and said “Hey dad, we got another one”.  The guy looked down at me and asked me if I liked fireworks. I quickly nodded yes.  Then he asked me if I wanted to dig holes and I nodded yes again.  He gave me a job and that is what I did for the following four summers.”

Steven eventually got his class B fireworks license meaning he joined that elite fraternity of professionals who put on public displays around the country on July Fourths, boy scout jamborees, weddings, NYE’s, and even shooting for President Reagan’s second presidential victory party.

In addition to shows Steven and Earl began attending conventions of fireworks enthusiasts.  In 1988 they produced a new premium firecracker called Roller Coaster Brand which is wholesaled around the country, yet still something was missing.

“It was Earl who came up with the idea of opening a retail store” Steven said.

    And in 2001 the brothers left their ‘real jobs’ and opened a store in Battle Mountain, Nevada once described as the “Armpit of America” by the New York Times, but adored by nearly all of it’s scantly 5,000 residents who enjoy small town life.

Although the town in Nevada’s High Desert may not be everyone’s cup of tea on the outside, inside Roller Coaster is paradise.  Anything anyone could want from mild to wild are on the shelves of the store in a remarkable paean to what is quickly becoming a bygone era; the back yard fireworks show.

Often it was a multi generational bonding where father son and grandson bonded regardless of politics or even social standing in that uniquely male obsession with making things go boom.

The Cassorla brothers for their part have kept this multi generational tradition alive. Every morning the brothers 97 year old father reports to work at their Battle Mountain store.

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Newmont Lights Up The 4th

Posted on 29 June 2012 by Howard Copelan

Newmont presented the 4th of July Committee Chair, Council Woman Emily Carter, with a $3200 donation for the Annual Community 4thof July Parade and Fireworks event! Photo:Pamela Smith, External Affairs Emily Carter and Rhonda Zuraff, External Affairs

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Affirmative (Re) Action

Posted on 29 June 2012 by Howard Copelan

Minority it is a pretty high charged word these days.

In has been so for as long as we can remember and probably longer still.

We remember a joke from a 70’s sitcom where a white woman was denied a job because the only opening available was reserved for a half black half Hispanic gay man.

Funny joke.

When our kids were entering school we joked around about claiming minority status for them by virtue of their mother’s Spanish Jewish heritage. Sure it had been 500 years since the expulsion but her family still spoke a kind of Spanish at home. And home for most of those 500 years was North Africa which made them, although lily white, Africans as well.

We decided against it because there is a line where a good joke ends and bad taste begins.

We have been think about it again however with the birth of our grandson Oz Avraham Mowzowski who despite his name, strawberry blond hair and sky blue eyes is three quarters African thanks to his father’s South African birth.

Our little Ozzie can also claim to be three quarters Asian since his mother and paternal grandfather were both born in Israel.

The one fact about Ozzie’s identity that will not do him any good at least when it comes to college admittance, financial aid, or job placement in America is the central one. Our little man is Jew.

This might come as a surprise to many of our readers but Jews along with Chinese, Hindus, Japanese and every European ethnic group even if they fled here for their lives are not among the “minorities” in America. To which we say “Thank G-d”.

Sure the perks look good, easy admission reduced or waived cost perhaps even a guaranteed job in some government office or non-profit NGO or maybe even private enterprise.

But after more than of a half century of results of so called affirmative action prove that set asides for our “minorities” has proven a disaster. Perhaps not for a few individuals but in terms group dynamics the numbers paint a depressing picture. Instead of leveling the playing field for the formally repressed minorities, racial and ethnic preferences have resulted in more poverty and less achievement than the days before affirmative action was implemented.

We should have known.

Giving advantage to one group over others never works out.

There is a reason why when a white man speaks with a southern accent we reduce his perceived IQ by 20 or 30 points and it is the same reason why the same deduction is made for the landed aristocracy of Britain.

It is not that all those people are morons it is just that after generations of preferred treatment more than a few morons have slipped threw the cracks.

Luckily for southern whites and English aristocrats they are still more or less in charge or at least still at the table.

The same cannot be said for the Afrikaners descendents of the original Dutch settlers in South Africa.

After generations of being given set asides, protected jobs, and affirmative action these Boers once at the top of the apartheid pyramid fell to the bottom of the new South Africa and they are still there.

Funny thing other South African whites who had to make it pretty much on their own even in the days of apartheid are doing just fine economically even though many are leaving because of increase violence and hooliganism.

Just how a helping hand turns out to be a foot on the neck has been debated until the cows come home.

We think it is very simple.

It is a question of dignity.

Whatever you call it, affirmative action quotas or set asides, pervert the old saying– give a man a fish he eats for a day, teach a man to fish he eats for life- may be true. But to guarantee our fisherman a catch robs him of his dignity.

And a man black, white or indifferent needs his dignity, a people even more so.

Declaring them so damaged or so privileged that cannot make it on their own is demeaning and destructive.

It is to shackle them to whims of history, which sometimes as the Boers will attest has a way of changing.

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Wendover Will To Become Eye For Police, Spy On The Boulevard?

Posted on 22 June 2012 by Howard Copelan

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Wendover Will’s may soon get a pair of real eyes- surveillance cameras- to look for miscreants and scofflaws.

Proposed by Councilman Johnny Gorum and endorsed by Chief of Police Ron Supp, West Wendover city Manager Chris Melville was directed to research the idea and see if there was any grant money available for turning the venerable Wendover Will into a kind of eye in the sky for Wendover Boulevard.

The city’s main drag has recently become more deadly. Last year the Wendover Will could have witnessed a suicide by car attempt a fatal hit and run and a near fatal armed robbery.

But while hidden cameras in the 60 year old cowboy might have caught some bad guys local civil libertarians will probably bristle at being watched by Big Brother Will.

After the 9-11 terrorists attack on the World Trade Centers, most large cities began to deploy surveillance cameras to forestall new attempts or to identify terrorists after an attack.

The cameras proved to be also very effective in identifying leaders in mass civil disturbances and riots.

There are surveillance cameras covering most of down town Salt Lake City and in the LDS church Temple complex.

Wendover is however a small town with a population hovering between 4,000 to 5,000. While weekend tourism can swell the weekend population to over 20,000 surveillance cameras might be a little off-putting to the casino industry customers as well as locals.

Offering gambling, drinking and strippers all forms of ‘entertainment’ frowned on by the LDS church, Wendover is a place where anonymity is a valued commodity. The possibility that cameras in Wendover Will could be recording faces and license plates of people who are really not supposed to be in town might be more than a little off-putting to Wendover’s bread and butter.

Locals could see the surveillance as just another extension of police presence in town. While a recent attempt to finger print and run back ground checks on every alcohol server was beaten back after strong pressure from the casino industry, the city council has recently adopted laws mandating similar data collection and research on every new business license applicant.

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US Forest Service ‘Oops’ Chars Hundreds Of Woodland Acres

Posted on 22 June 2012 by Howard Copelan

What began as a prescribed burn is now a full fledge wild fire that as already torched hundreds of acres and is not expected to be contained for another two weeks.

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Burning half way between Wendover and Ely, the North Schell Fire is 37-percent contained.  Full containment is expected by July 4.  A red flag warning will be in effect tomorrow for high winds.

  The fire is burning in steep, rugged terrain on the east side of the Schell Mountain Range, 20 miles northeast of Ely, Nev.  It is consuming white fir, mountain mahogany, pinion-pine, juniper, grass, understory and sagebrush.

State Route 893 is open to the public, but motorists are encouraged to remain out of the fire area.  Kalamazoo Road remains closed until further notice.

Strong winds passed through the area again on Tuesday but did not influence the fire as strongly as in recent days.  The majority of fire activity occurred on the southeast perimeter where the fire moved laterally along the mountain range.  Late in the day the fire spread over the ridge from Muncy Creek into Kalamazoo Creek.  Dozers created a firebreak at the lower edge of the pinyon-juniper stands to prevent the fire from spreading down into critical sage grouse habitat and mule deer winter range.

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As a result of high nighttime temperatures and poor humidity recovery, the fire has continued to burn actively well into the night. This week’s efforts will again focus on the southeast portion of the fire.  Firefighters will construct fireline and also patrol previously lined sections of the fire perimeter.  Helicopters will continue to drop water on the fire to support those working on the ground.  Smoke may be visible in some remote interior regions of the fire during the coming weeks as pockets of unburned trees and brush are consumed.

The North Schell Fire began on June 9th as a U.S. Forest Service prescribed fire.  Since it was declared a wildfire on Sunday, June 17th, the fire has been managed jointly by the Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest and Ely District BLM.  Firefighter and public safety is the number priority on the North Schell Fire.

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Judge Gets Tough With Scofflaw

Posted on 22 June 2012 by Howard Copelan

Salvador Jesus Avila learned Friday that it wasn’t a good idea to ignore Judge Reese Melville.

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Melville ordered Avila to spend 10 days in the Elko County for contempt of court after Avila failed to comply with court orders pertaining to a previous DUI conviction.

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“I have given you ample opportunity to work on this case but for some reason you haven’t worked with us.” Melville said. “I am going to have you sit in the Elko County Jail for 10 days for you to think about this.”

Avila was immediately placed into custody and transported to jail.

The case is now being webcast on


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Vegas Water Grab Foes Run Out The Clock? 22 Years And Still Counting

Posted on 22 June 2012 by Howard Copelan

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The battle over rural Nevada water resources is really a battle over vision pity the flashy glitzy south against the stubborn north for the future of the state.

And given just enough time the rural north may just pull off the biggest upset since David best Goliath.

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For over 50 years casino dominated southern Nevada ignored the rural north and for the most part rural Nevada was happy to be ignored.

Las Vegas was and still is a land of an ever changing skyline, instant gratification and built on the millions of get rich quick dreams of small dreamers that more often than not failed to come true.

While small time dreamers often arrived to Las Vegas in a car and left in a bus, the city was golden to the big dreamers from the 1940’s to the 1990’s no plan for Las Vegas seemed too ambitious or too fantastic to be achieved. Las Vegas dreamers not only rebuilt built Rome, Egypt, Paris and New York, their versions were often more opulent and came with a free dinner buffet with a one night’s stay.

While Las Vegas was growing in leaps and bounds, rural Nevada at least relative to Las Vegas was moving at a snail’s pace. It was not that there was no economic growth in the 80 percent of the state north of the Clark County line, indeed the north growth even the rural north’s growth for the latter half of the 20th century would have been the story in any other state. But while the north was often bright it never out shined the super nova that was Las Vegas.

There seemed to be no limit to Las Vegas’ growth except for one little detail- water. Cities of a more than a million people need water, cities whose major industry is tourism need more and desert cities of more than a million based on tourism need the most. And by the 1980’s it became clear to the movers and shakers that created Las Vegas that their ever growing ever thirstier city would need even more than its share of the Colorado river if to keep pace with the sprawl.

Rebuffed by its partners in the river, Las Vegas for the first time in 50 years looked north and liked what it saw. The solution to its forecasted water problem could be easily solved by building the largest most expensive system of pipelines that would bring northern water south. It was and still is the largest ever aqua engineering project in the history of human civilization but for a city that built a copy of Paris in six short months anything seemed possible.

Southern Nevada brashness meet northern Nevada orneriness.

It has been 25 years since the project was first put together in secret and over 22 plus years since the Southern Nevada Water Authority made its first move and not an inch of pipe has been laid or a shovel full of dirt turned.

In fact the only real successes the SNWA can claim is this March’s ruling by State engineer that gave water rights to the authority originally filed for in 1990.

The SNWA should not however pop the champagne just yet.

More than 300 local governments, Indian tribes, ranchers, farmers, businesses, environmental groups, and families and individuals from across Nevada and Utah filed petitions for judicial review appealing the Nevada State Engineer’s decision.

“We are definitely in this for the long haul,” said Abby Johnson a Board Member of the Great Basin Water Network. “We are appealing the ruling and depending on the EIS (environmental Impact statement) we could appeal that finding. If anything we in rural Nevada are more united, more ready to fight than we ever were.”

Last weekend Snake Valley Festival held in Baker, Nevada appears to back up Johnson’s words. Only in its fourth year of existence the festival raised closed to $10,000. Perhaps a meager sum in Las Vegas but enough to keep lawyers filing appeal after appeal and seeking injunction after injunction for years if not decades into the future.

“I really don’t think the SNWA realized who they were dealing with back in 1990.” Johnson said. “These are ranchers who have lived here for seven or eight generation, tribes who have been here thousands of years We can’t lose this fight because if they take our water we lose our homes our livelihoods. It is a question of survival.”

The SNWA has tried just about everything to get the rurals to back down. Running the gamut from vinegar to honey back to vinegar, the rural north has refused to budge and according to legal experts the fight has at least another 10 years and probably double that in the various courts before the SNWA could even think about declaring victory let alone actually winning it.

In the twenty plus years since the first filing a major plank of Las Vegas’ argument was shattered by the Great Recession. Four years after the economic downturn hit the Las Vegas economy has still not recovered, unemployment is still in the double digits whole neighborhoods are still empty and the exponential growth and unquenchable thirst are still on time out.

“The downturn proved our point,” Johnson added. “The line that Las Vegas was always going to grow was proven wrong.”

The downturn for Las Vegas also raised the serious question of whether the city could actually afford the $15 billion project or muster the political will to raise water rates to pay for it.

“$15 billion is a lot of money even for Las Vegas,” Johnson said.

And that sum is just an estimate if the foes of the water grab continue to delay those costs may increase beyond reach.

Time also works against Las Vegas in a much more subtle way. After well over two decades the salaried original planners of the water grab from Clark County are becoming a bit long in tooth and close to retirement.

Whether the next generation will have the will and the wherewithal to continue the fight is an open question.

Water grab opponents on the other are raising the next generation of hydro warriors who are if anything more devoted to the cause than their parents were.

“For them its a job, for us its a way of life,” said Denise Coyle owner of the Baker’s Border Inn. “You have people here who have survived every hardship you can imagine and have prospered. We are ready to fight this forever is the SNWA?”

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