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The Blue & Gray Press | November 23, 2017

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Outside the Fence

By Heather Brady

Regional
On Tuesday, the Commonwealth of Virginia will provide up to $5.2 million to front-line private groups in order to help save portions of 15 Civil War battlefields, including nearby Chancellorsville and Brandy Station, from encroaching development. The grants will save key parcels of land by enabling private organizations to buy parcels or obtain easement rights on land that will stay in private ownership. Preservationists must come up with $10.4 million to get the 21 matching grants from the state Department of Historic Resources, with a resulting total of $15.57 million. This total would be one of the largest sums earmarked for Virginia battlefield preservation in decades, and will save 1,571 acres of land. (The Free Lance-Star, Nov. 18; www.fredericksburg.com)

National
Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska lost a bid for a seventh term in Congress as final ballots were counted on Tuesday, giving the Democrats at least 58 seats in the Senate for the first years of the Obama administration. Mark Begich, the Democratic mayor of Anchorage, led by 3,724 votes out of over 315,000 cast. Senator Stevens, convicted last month on federal ethics charges, did not immediately concede the race, as he could still pay for a recount. The defeat came on Stevens’s 85th birthday, and will end his career as the longest-serving Republican senator in history. (The New York Times, Nov. 19; www.nytimes.com)

Global
The high-profile judge Baltasar Garzón dropped a sensitive inquiry into atrocities that took place during the era of Franco, Spain’s former dictator, on Tuesday. This ended what had promised to be the first criminal investigation of wrongs committed by Franco and his allies. Garzón declared himself competent last month to investigate the killings of 114,000 people at the hands of Franco’s supporters, and accused Franco and 34 former generals and ministers of crimes against humanity. However, Garzón said Tuesday that he was dropping the case after state prosecutors questioned his jurisdiction over crimes committed over 70 years ago by people who are now dead and who were covered by an amnesty passed in 1977. He passed responsibility to regional courts for opening 19 mass graves believed to hold remains of hundreds of victims, including notable Spanish poet Frederico Garcia Lorca. (The New York Times, Nov. 19; www.nytimes.com)