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Freedom (Franzen novel) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 Freedom  Comments Off on Freedom (Franzen novel) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Aug 292015

Freedom is a novel by American author Jonathan Franzen. It was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and released on August 31, 2010.

Freedom received general acclaim from book critics, and was ranked one of the best books of 2010 by several publications.

Freedom follows several members of an American family, the Berglunds, as well as their close friends and lovers, as complex and troubled relationships unfold over many years. The book follows them through the last decades of the twentieth century and concludes near the beginning of the Obama administration.

Freedom opens with a short history of the Berglund family from the perspective of their nosy neighbors. The Berglunds are portrayed as the most ideal liberal middle-class family, and they are among the first families to move back into urban St. Paul, Minnesota, after years of white flight to the suburbs. Patty Berglund is an unusually young and pretty homemaker with a self-deprecating sense of humor; her husband Walter is a mild-mannered lawyer with strong environmentalist leanings.

They have one daughter, Jessica, and a son, Joey, who early on displays an independent streak and an interest in making money. Joey becomes sexually involved with a neighborhood teen named Connie and begins to rebel against his mother, going so far as to move in with Connie, her mother, and her mother’s boyfriend Blake, making Patty and Walter increasingly unstable. After several unhappy years, the family relocates to Washington, D.C., abandoning the neighborhood and house they worked so hard to improve. Walter takes a job with an unorthodox environmental project, tied to big coal.

The second portion of the book takes the form of an autobiography of Patty Berglund, composed at the suggestion of her therapist. The autobiography tells of Patty’s youth as a star basketball player, and her increasing alienation from her artistically inclined parents and sisters. Instead of attending an East Coast elite college like her siblings, she gets a basketball scholarship to the University of Minnesota and adopts the life of the athlete. She meets an attractive but unattainable indie rock musician named Richard Katz, and his nerdy but kind roommate, Walter Berglund. After her basketball career-ending knee injury, Patty suddenly becomes desperate for male affection, and after failing to woo Richard, she settles down with Walter, who had been patiently courting her for more than a year. We learn that Patty retained her desire for Richard and eventually had a brief affair with him at the Berglunds’ lakeside cabin.

The novel then jumps ahead to New York City in 2004 and shifts to the story of Walter and Patty’s friend Richard, who has finally succeeded in becoming a minor indie rock star in his middle age. His hit album Nameless Lake tells the story of his brief love affair with Patty at the Berglunds’ lakeside cabin in Minnesota. Richard is uncomfortable with commercial success, throws away his new-found money, and returns to building roof decks for wealthy people in Manhattan. Walter calls him out of the blue to enlist his help as a celebrity spokesman for an environmental campaign. Walter has taken a job in Washington, D.C. working for a coal mining magnate who wants to strip mine a section of West Virginia forest before turning it into a songbird preserve of future environmental value. Walter hopes to use some of this project’s funding to hold a concert to combat overpopulation, the common factor behind all his environmental concerns, and he believes that Richard will be able to rally well-known musicians to his cause. Meanwhile, Walter’s marriage to Patty has been deteriorating steadily, and his pretty young assistant Lalitha has fallen deeply in love with him.

In parallel, the Berglunds’ estranged, Republican son Joey attempts to finance his college life at the University of Virginia by taking on a dubious subcontract to provide spare parts for outdated supply trucks during the Iraq War. While at college, he marries his childhood sweetheart but dares not tell his parents. After visiting his roommate’s family in the DC suburbs, he also pursues his friend’s beautiful sister Jenna and is exposed to her father’s Zionist, neoconservative politics. After months of pursuing Jenna, when she finally wants him to have sex with her, he cannot maintain an erection. Later he becomes conflicted after making $850,000 selling defective truck parts to military suppliers in Iraq. In the end Joey gives away the excess proceeds of his profiteering, reconciles with his parents, settles down with Connie, and moves into a sustainable coffee business with the help of his father Walter.

Now, Richard’s re-appearance destroys Walter and Patty’s weakening marriage. Richard tries to convince Patty to leave Walter, but she shows Richard the autobiography she wrote as “therapy”, trying to convince him that she’s still in love with Walter. Richard deliberately leaves the autobiography on Walter’s desk, and Walter reads Patty’s true thoughts. Walter kicks Patty out of the house, and she moves to Jersey City to be with Richard, but the relationship only lasts six months. Later, she moves to Brooklyn alone and takes a job at a private school, discovering her skill for teaching younger children. When Patty leaves him, Walter has a catharsis on live television, revealing his contempt for the displaced West Virginian families and his various commercial backers. Local rednecks respond by dragging him from the platform and beating him up. He is promptly fired by the environmental trust, but his TV debacle makes him a viral video hero to radical youth across the nation. He and his assistant Lalitha become lovers and continue their plans to combat overpopulation through a concert to rally young people in the hills of West Virginia. Lalitha is killed in a suspicious car accident a few days before the concert is due to take place. Shattered, and having lost both of the women who loved him, Walter retreats to his family’s lakeside vacation house back in Minnesota. He becomes known to a new street of neighbors as a cranky old recluse, obsessed with house cats killing birds nesting on his property.

After a few years living in Brooklyn, Patty’s father dies and she is forced to settle the fight that erupts within her family of spoiled bohemians as they attempt to split up the much-diminished family fortune. This experience helps Patty to mature. After a few years of living alone, she appraises the emptiness of her life and honestly faces her advancing age. She decides to hunt down Walter, the only man who had ever really loved her. She drives to the lakeside cabin in Minnesota, and despite his rage and confusion, he eventually agrees to take her back. The book ends in 2008 as they leave as a couple to return to Patty’s job in New York City, after turning their old lakeside vacation home into a cat-proof fenced bird sanctuary, named in memory of Lalitha.

After the critical acclaim and popular success of his third novel The Corrections in 2001, Franzen began work on his fourth full-length novel. When asked during an October 30, 2002 interview on Charlie Rose how far he was into writing the new novel, Franzen replied:

I’m about a year of frustration and confusion into it…Y’know, I’m kind of down at the bottom of the submerged iceberg peering up for the surface of the water…I don’t have doubt about my ability to write a good book, but I have lots of doubt about what it’s going to look like.[1]

Franzen went on to suggest that a basic story outline was in place, and that his writing of the new novel was like a “guerilla war” approaching different aspects of the novel (alluding to characters, dialogue, plot development etc.).[1] Franzen also agreed that he would avoid public appearances, saying that “…getting some work done is the vacation” from the promotional work surrounding The Corrections and How To Be Alone.[1]

An excerpt entitled “Good Neighbors” appeared in the June 8 and June 15, 2009 issues of The New Yorker.[2] The magazine published a second extract entitled “Agreeable” in the May 31, 2010 edition.[3]

On October 16, 2009, Franzen made an appearance alongside David Bezmozgis at the New Yorker Festival at the Cedar Lake Theatre to read a portion of his forthcoming novel.[4][5] Sam Allard, writing for North By Northwestern website covering the event, said that the “…material from his new (reportedly massive) novel” was “as buoyant and compelling as ever” and “marked by his familiar undercurrent of tragedy”.[5] Franzen read “an extended clip from the second chapter.”[5]

On March 12, 2010, details about the plot and content of Freedom were published in the Macmillan fall catalogue for 2010.[6]

In an interview with Dave Haslam on October 3, 2010 Franzen discussed why he had called the book Freedom:

The reason I slapped the word on the book proposal I sold three years ago without any clear idea of what kind of book it was going to be is that I wanted to write a book that would free me in some way. And I will say this about the abstract concept of ‘freedom'; it’s possible you are freer if you accept what you are and just get on with being the person you are, than if you maintain this kind of uncommitted I’m free-to-be-this, free-to-be-that, faux freedom.[7]

Freedom received general acclaim from book critics, particularly for its writing and characterization. Shortly after the book’s release, the front cover of a TIME magazine issue showed a picture of Franzen above the words “Great American Novelist,” making him the first author to appear on the front cover in a decade.

Sam Tanenhaus of The New York Times and Benjamin Alsup of Esquire believed it measured up to Franzen’s previous novel, The Corrections. Tanenhaus called it a “masterpiece of American fiction,” writing that it “[told] an engrossing story” and “[illuminated], through the steady radiance of its authors profound moral intelligence, the world we thought we knew.”[8] Alsup called it a great American novel. “[9] In The Millions, Garth Risk Hallberg argued that readers who enjoyed The Corrections would enjoy Freedom. He also wrote that they’re “likely to come away from this novel moved in harder-to-fathom waysand grateful for it.”[10] An editor for Publishers Weekly wrote that it stood apart from most modern fiction because “Franzen tries to account for his often stridently unlikable characters and find where they (and we) went wrong, arriving atincrediblygenuine hope.”[11]

Benjamin Secher of The Telegraph called Franzen one of America’s best living novelists, and Freedom the first great American novel of the “post-Obama era.”[12] In The Guardian, Jonathan Jones called him “a literary genius” and wrote that Freedom stood on “a different plane from other contemporary fiction.”[13]

Michiko Kakutani called the book “galvanic” and wrote that it showcased Franzen’s talent as a storyteller and “his ability to throw open a big, Updikean picture window on American middle-class life.” Kakutani also praised the novel’s characterization, going on to call it a “compelling biography of a dysfunctional family and an indelible portrait of our times.”[14]The Economist wrote that the novel contained “fully imagined characters in a powerful narrative.” The reviewer went on to say that it had “all its predecessor’s power and none of its faults.”[15]

Not all reviews were raving. Most lukewarm reviews praised the novel’s prose, but believed the author’s left-wing political stance was too obvious. Sam Anderson, in a review for New York magazine, thought the characterization was strong, but perceived the politics as sometimes too heavy-handed: “Franzen the crankmighty detester of Twitter, ATVs, and housing developments” occasionally “overpower[s] Franzen the artist […] but if crankiness is the motor that powers Franzen’s art, I’m perfectly willing to sit through some speeches.”[16]Ron Charles of The Washington Post also felt less favorably, remarking that it lacked the wit and “[freshness]” of The Corrections. Charles praised Franzen’s prose and called him “an extraordinary stylist,” but questioned how many readers would settle for good writing as “sufficient compensation for what is sometimes a misanthropic slog.”[17] In addition, Ruth Franklin of The New Republic believed the novel resembled a “soap opera” more than it did an epic, and that Franzen had forgotten “the greatest novels must […] offer […] profundity and pleasure.”[18]

Alexander Nazaryan criticized its familiarity in the New York Daily News remarking that the author “can write about a gentrifying family in St. Paul. Or maybe in St. Louis. But that’s about it. Nazaryan also didn’t believe Franzen was joking when he suggested “being doomed as a novelist never to do anything but stories of Midwestern families.”[19]Alan Cheuse of National Public Radio found the novel “[brilliant]” but not enjoyable, suggesting that “every line, every insight, seems covered with a light film of disdain. Franzen seems never to have met a normal, decent, struggling human being whom he didn’t want to make us feel ever so slightly superior to. His book just has too much brightness and not enough color.”[20]

Ross Douthat of First Things praised the “stretches of Freedom that read like a master class in how to write sympathetically about the kind of characters” with an abundance of freedom. Yet, Douthat concluded the novel was overlong, feeling the “impression that Franzen’s talents are being wasted on his characters.”[21]

Freedom won the John Gardner Fiction Award. Additionally, it was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. The American Library Association also named it a notable fiction of the 2010 publishing year.

Oprah Winfrey made Freedom her first book club selection of 2010, saying, “this book is a masterpiece.”[22][23] US President Barack Obama called it “terrific” after reading it over the summer.[24]

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Freedom (Franzen novel) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

eugenics | genetics |

 Eugenics  Comments Off on eugenics | genetics |
Jul 212015

eugenics,the selection of desired heritable characteristics in order to improve future generations, typically in reference to humans. The term eugenics was coined in 1883 by the British explorer and natural scientist Francis Galton, who, influenced by Charles Darwins theory of natural selection, advocated a system that would allow the more suitable races or strains of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable. Social Darwinism, the popular theory in the late 19th century that life for humans in society was ruled by survival of the fittest, helped advance eugenics into serious scientific study in the early 1900s. By World War I, many scientific authorities and political leaders supported eugenics. However, it ultimately failed as a science in the 1930s and 40s, when the assumptions of eugenicists became heavily criticized and the Nazis used eugenics to support the extermination of entire races.

Galton, Sir FrancisCourtesy of The National Portrait Gallery, LondonAlthough eugenics as understood today dates from the late 19th century, efforts to select matings in order to secure offspring with desirable traits date from ancient times. Platos Republic (c. 378 bce) depicts a society where efforts are undertaken to improve human beings through selective breeding. Later, Italian philosopher and poet Tommaso Campanella, in City of the Sun (1623), described a utopian community in which only the socially elite are allowed to procreate. Galton, in Hereditary Genius (1869), proposed that a system of arranged marriages between men of distinction and women of wealth would eventually produce a gifted race. In 1865, the basic laws of heredity were discovered by the father of modern genetics, Gregor Mendel. His experiments with peas demonstrated that each physical trait was the result of a combination of two units (now known as genes) and could be passed from one generation to another. However, his work was largely ignored until its rediscovery in 1900. This fundamental knowledge of heredity provided eugenicistsincluding Galton, who influenced his cousin Charles Darwinwith scientific evidence to support the improvement of humans through selective breeding.

The advancement of eugenics was concurrent with an increasing appreciation of Charles Darwins account for change or evolution within societywhat contemporaries referred to as Social Darwinism. Darwin had concluded his explanations of evolution by arguing that the greatest step humans could make in their own history would occur when they realized that they were not completely guided by instinct. Rather, humans, through selective reproduction, had the ability to control their own future evolution. A language pertaining to reproduction and eugenics developed, leading to terms such as positive eugenics, defined as promoting the proliferation of good stock, and negative eugenics, defined as prohibiting marriage and breeding between defective stock. For eugenicists, nature was far more contributory than nurture in shaping humanity.

During the early 1900s, eugenics became a serious scientific study pursued by both biologists and social scientists. They sought to determine the extent to which human characteristics of social importance were inherited. Among their greatest concerns were the predictability of intelligence and certain deviant behaviours. Eugenics, however, was not confined to scientific laboratories and academic institutions. It began to pervade cultural thought around the globe, including the Scandinavian countries, most other European countries, North America, Latin America, Japan, China, and Russia. In the United States, the eugenics movement began during the Progressive Era and remained active through 1940. It gained considerable support from leading scientific authorities such as zoologist Charles B. Davenport, plant geneticist Edward M. East, and geneticist and Nobel Prize laureate Hermann J. Muller. Political leaders in favour of eugenics included U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, Secretary of State Elihu Root, and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court John Marshall Harlan. Internationally, there were many individuals whose work supported eugenic aims, including British scientists J.B.S. Haldane and Julian Huxley and Russian scientists Nikolay K. Koltsov and Yury A. Filipchenko.

Pearson, KarlCourtesy of Professor D.V. Lindley; photograph, J.R. Freeman & Co. Ltd.Galton had endowed a research fellowship in eugenics in 1904 and, in his will, provided funds for a chair of eugenics at University College, London. The fellowship and later the chair were occupied by Karl Pearson, a brilliant mathematician who helped to create the science of biometry, the statistical aspects of biology. Pearson was a controversial figure who believed that environment had little to do with the development of mental or emotional qualities. He felt that the high birth rate of the poor was a threat to civilization and that the higher races must supplant the lower. His views gave countenance to those who believed in racial and class superiority. Thus, Pearson shares the blame for the discredit later brought on eugenics.

In the United States, the Eugenics Record Office (ERO) was opened at Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, N.Y., in 1910 with financial support from the legacy of railroad magnate Edward Henry Harriman. Whereas ERO efforts were officially overseen by Charles B. Davenport, director of the Station for Experimental Study of Evolution (one of the biology research stations at Cold Spring Harbor), ERO activities were directly superintended by Harry H. Laughlin, a professor from Kirksville, Mo. The ERO was organized around a series of missions. These missions included serving as the national repository and clearinghouse for eugenics information, compiling an index of traits in American families, training field-workers to gather data throughout the United States, supporting investigations into the inheritance patterns of particular human traits and diseases, advising on the eugenic fitness of proposed marriages, and communicating all eugenic findings through a series of publications. To accomplish these goals, further funding was secured from the Carnegie Institution of Washington, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the Battle Creek Race Betterment Foundation, and the Human Betterment Foundation.

Prior to the founding of the ERO, eugenics work in the United States was overseen by a standing committee of the American Breeders Association (eugenics section established in 1906), chaired by ichthyologist and Stanford University president David Starr Jordan. Research from around the globe was featured at three international congresses, held in 1912, 1921, and 1932. In addition, eugenics education was monitored in Britain by the English Eugenics Society (founded by Galton in 1907 as the Eugenics Education Society) and in the United States by the American Eugenics Society.

Following World War I, the United States gained status as a world power. A concomitant fear arose that if the healthy stock of the American people became diluted with socially undesirable traits, the countrys political and economic strength would begin to crumble. The maintenance of world peace by fostering democracy, capitalism, and, at times, eugenics-based schemes was central to the activities of the Internationalists, a group of prominent American leaders in business, education, publishing, and government. One core member of this group, the New York lawyer Madison Grant, aroused considerable pro-eugenic interest through his best-selling book The Passing of the Great Race (1916). Beginning in 1920, a series of congressional hearings was held to identify problems that immigrants were causing the United States. As the countrys eugenics expert, Harry Laughlin provided tabulations showing that certain immigrants, particularly those from Italy, Greece, and Eastern Europe, were significantly overrepresented in American prisons and institutions for the feebleminded. Further data were construed to suggest that these groups were contributing too many genetically and socially inferior people. Laughlins classification of these individuals included the feebleminded, the insane, the criminalistic, the epileptic, the inebriate, the diseasedincluding those with tuberculosis, leprosy, and syphilisthe blind, the deaf, the deformed, the dependent, chronic recipients of charity, paupers, and neer-do-wells. Racial overtones also pervaded much of the British and American eugenics literature. In 1923, Laughlin was sent by the U.S. secretary of labour as an immigration agent to Europe to investigate the chief emigrant-exporting nations. Laughlin sought to determine the feasibility of a plan whereby every prospective immigrant would be interviewed before embarking to the United States. He provided testimony before Congress that ultimately led to a new immigration law in 1924 that severely restricted the annual immigration of individuals from countries previously claimed to have contributed excessively to the dilution of American good stock.

Immigration control was but one method to control eugenically the reproductive stock of a country. Laughlin appeared at the centre of other U.S. efforts to provide eugenicists greater reproductive control over the nation. He approached state legislators with a model law to control the reproduction of institutionalized populations. By 1920, two years before the publication of Laughlins influential Eugenical Sterilization in the United States (1922), 3,200 individuals across the country were reported to have been involuntarily sterilized. That number tripled by 1929, and by 1938 more than 30,000 people were claimed to have met this fate. More than half of the states adopted Laughlins law, with California, Virginia, and Michigan leading the sterilization campaign. Laughlins efforts secured staunch judicial support in 1927. In the precedent-setting case of Buck v. Bell, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., upheld the Virginia statute and claimed, It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.

During the 1930s, eugenics gained considerable popular support across the United States. Hygiene courses in public schools and eugenics courses in colleges spread eugenic-minded values to many. A eugenics exhibit titled Pedigree-Study in Man was featured at the Chicago Worlds Fair in 193334. Consistent with the fairs Century of Progress theme, stations were organized around efforts to show how favourable traits in the human population could best be perpetuated. Contrasts were drawn between the emulative, presidential Roosevelt family and the degenerate Ishmael family (one of several pseudonymous family names used, the rationale for which was not given). By studying the passage of ancestral traits, fairgoers were urged to adopt the progressive view that responsible individuals should pursue marriage ever mindful of eugenics principles. Booths were set up at county and state fairs promoting fitter families contests, and medals were awarded to eugenically sound families. Drawing again upon long-standing eugenic practices in agriculture, popular eugenic advertisements claimed it was about time that humans received the same attention in the breeding of better babies that had been given to livestock and crops for centuries.

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eugenics | genetics |

Religious freedom debate continues at Iowa Capitol

 Freedom  Comments Off on Religious freedom debate continues at Iowa Capitol
Apr 142015

DES MOINES Religious leaders and state lawmakers tried Monday to navigate the area between religious freedom and individual civil liberties.

Supporters of religious freedom spoke at a ceremony in the Capitol on Monday, praising Iowa for being a state that allows for the religious expression of varied faiths.

Speakers also acknowledged the national discussion over religious freedom as new laws in Indiana and Arkansas have been both praised for protecting religious freedom and criticized for serving as legal shields for discrimination.

It is a hallmark of a civil society, as opposed to anarchy, that our freedoms will be limited in some way when they harm others, said Sarai Rice, executive director of the Des Moines Area Religious Council. What is not limited is our freedom to believe and to think and to speak in public.

Iowa Sens. Jake Chapman, R-Adel, and Jeff Danielson, D-Waterloo, sponsored and spoke at the event.

Chapman said Mondays event was purely about celebrating Iowans right to practice any religion. It originally was scheduled for Jan. 16, Religious Freedom Day in Iowa as proclaimed by Gov. Terry Branstad.

But Branstads inauguration was held Jan. 16, so the religious freedom event was rescheduled to coincide with the birthdate of Thomas Jefferson, who authored the original Virginia statute on religious freedom.

That caused Mondays event to overlap with a national dialogue on religious freedom laws, a debate that spilled Monday into the Iowa House.

Rep. Steve Holt, R-Denison, spoke on the House floor in favor of religious freedom and business owners ability to refuse services to activities such as same-sex marriages that go against their religious beliefs.

Holt said requiring businesses to perform such services places people of faith in a position of violating their religious principles.

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Religious freedom debate continues at Iowa Capitol

Virginia Cop-Insulting Someone on Facebook Is Not Free Speech – Video

 Free Speech  Comments Off on Virginia Cop-Insulting Someone on Facebook Is Not Free Speech – Video
Apr 112015

Virginia Cop-Insulting Someone on Facebook Is Not Free Speech
The President of the Virginia Fraternal Order of Police said, “Free speech doesn't say you have the right to insult somebody,” and that using bad language online should also be considered a…


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Virginia Cop-Insulting Someone on Facebook Is Not Free Speech – Video

Ted Cruz ‘imagines’ 2016 Presidency in Liberty Speech – Video

 Liberty  Comments Off on Ted Cruz ‘imagines’ 2016 Presidency in Liberty Speech – Video
Apr 052015

Ted Cruz 'imagines' 2016 Presidency in Liberty Speech
Lynchburg, Virginia (CNN)Sen. Ted Cruz, the conservative firebrand from Texas, became the first Republican to announce his campaign for the presidency, and he spent Monday morning telling a…

By: The Richard Fowler Show

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Ted Cruz ‘imagines’ 2016 Presidency in Liberty Speech – Video

Two California beaches make top 10 list for family friendliness

 Beaches  Comments Off on Two California beaches make top 10 list for family friendliness
Apr 032015

California beaches in Carlsbad and Lake Tahoe (lake beaches count!) made Family Vacation Critic’s list of the 10 best U.S. beaches for families in 2015.

Lincoln City Beach in Lincoln, Ore., won top honors.

What makes for a family-friendly beach? Editors at the website, which is part of TripAdvisor, looked for beautiful beaches that also had nearby lodgings, restaurants and entertainment options that would be convenient for families.

The presence of lifeguards (a big plus), family activities, beach rentals and food stands were taken into consideration too.

Carlsbad State Beach, sometimes called Tamarack Beach for the street it’s near, was singled out at No. 5 for its welcoming family atmosphere. Parking is free if you get there early, and kids and their parents can enroll insurfing classes at the beach during summer months.

No. 10 Kings Beach on the north side of Lake Tahoe near the California-Nevada border received high marks as a good picnic spot. It includes a state recreation area and is close toTahoe Central Market, where you can stock up for a gourmet outdoor meal.

If you’re planning a beach vacation this summer, let the list be your guide.

1. Lincoln City Beach in Lincoln, Ore., on the coast about 100 miles southwest of Portland.

2. Virginia Beach in Virginia Beach, Va.

3. Ogunquit Beach in Ogunquit, Maine

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Two California beaches make top 10 list for family friendliness

NASA Invites Public to April Hubble 25th Anniversary Events

 Hubble Telescope  Comments Off on NASA Invites Public to April Hubble 25th Anniversary Events
Apr 022015

GREENBELT, Md., April 1, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope celebrates 25 years of science this April 2015 with a variety of events open to the public around the U.S. Here is a sampling of events happening this month in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area. Some events charge admission.

The IMAX movie, “Hubble 3D” has re-opened at select theatres across the U.S. and showings continue in April. Hubble images come to vast, three-dimensional life and take audiences through the telescope’s 20-year existence and puts them in orbit with astronauts during the latest servicing mission. For more information and the trailer, visit:

Hubble will be featured at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space museum in Washington throughout April. For details and dates:

From April 23 to May 2, a Hubble imagery exhibit called “Heaven’s Carousel,” created by the European Space Agency will be at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.

On April 23 from 9 to 9:45 a.m. EDT, NASA will unveil the official Hubble 25th anniversary image at the Newseum in Washington. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate John Grunsfeld, and Hubble Senior Project Scientist Jennifer Wiseman, will speak about Hubble’s achievements.

On April 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the Smithsonian’s NASM Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Chantilly, Virginia will hold a Family Day Event with astronauts. For information:

On April 25, Hubble information and displays will be featured at a table during the University of Maryland Day at College Park, Maryland. For information:

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASAand ESA (European Space Agency). NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center inGreenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute(STScI) in Baltimore conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASAby the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington.

For more information about the Hubble telescope and other upcoming events, visit:

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NASA Invites Public to April Hubble 25th Anniversary Events

Photos: Nation's 10 Best Family Beaches Revealed

 Beaches  Comments Off on Photos: Nation's 10 Best Family Beaches Revealed
Apr 012015

Family Vacation Critic, TripAdvisor’s family travel site, has announced the winners of its annual Best Beaches for Families list, naming the top family-friendly beaches of the year, along with fun, insider tips for each destination. Pictured here, Cape May, New Jersey.

Craig Terry/Cape May County Tourism

Lincoln City Beach, Lincoln City, Oregon. Insider Tip: “Search the sand for glass floats – they’re part of a program called Finders Keepers, in which ‘Float Fairies’ disperse beautiful ornaments on the beach for vacationers to find and take home.”

Lincoln City Visitor & Convention Bureau

Virginia Beach, Virginia Beach, Virginia . Insider Tip: “Don’t leave Virginia Beach without a photo in front of King Neptune, a 34-foot-tall statue of the mythological sea god. Families can also enjoy free concerts and live entertainment across the boardwalk in the summer. ”

Virginia Beach CVB

Ogunquit Beach, Ogunquit, Maine. Insider Tip: “Use the Ogunquit Trolley to get to the beach and around town – fare is just $2.00 per adult and $1.50 per child (ages 10 and under).”

Audrey Gottlieb

Manatee County Beach , Holmes Beach, Florida. Insider Tip: “Reserve a Nesting Beach Tour at the Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch to join federally permitted volunteers as they analyze nests and hatched (and unhatched) shells during turtle nesting season.”

Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

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Photos: Nation's 10 Best Family Beaches Revealed

How Indianas religious freedom law escalated to such national prominence

 Freedom  Comments Off on How Indianas religious freedom law escalated to such national prominence
Mar 312015

All eyes are on Indiana after Governor Mike Pence (R) signed a controversial religious freedom bill into law. The Posts Sarah Pulliam Bailey explains what exactly is in the law and why both sides are so vocal. (Pamela Kirkland/The Washington Post)

Indiana, a largely conservative state that votes pretty reliably Republican in presidential races, has become symbolic ina clash between politics and culture, religious rights and LGBT rights.

Last week, Indiana Gov. MikePence (R) signed into law a controversial religious freedom bill: Opponentsare concerned that it could allow discrimination against gay people.The law in question is called theReligious Freedom Restoration Act, more commonlyknown as RFRA.

The new law allows corporations to make an RFRA claim, expanding the number and type of groups that could make those claims in court. The law also makes it clear that RFRA can be used in lawsuits between individuals, when those claims usually apply only to conflicts between the government and individuals. However, its still unclear how exactly it could be used in court.

[Opinion: Tim Cook: Pro-discrimination religious freedom laws are dangerous]

Lawmakers are attempting to address the firestorm over the law that has prompted some convention organizers and businesses to threaten to cancel plansin the state over concerns of discrimination. The law has drawn attention from across the nation, as Seattle and San Francisco mayorshave urgeda boycott of Indiana.

A new Indiana law designed to keep the government from forcing business owners to act against their religious beliefs draws fierce criticism. (Reuters)

University of Virginia law professorDouglas Laycock, one of the nations foremost law-and-religion scholars, says the conversation has escalated over misunderstandings over previous cases.RFRA has become a national controversy in the past year since Kansas and Arizona considered and abandonedreligious freedom legislation. And last summer,RFRA was raised during last yearsHobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court.

Theres bad behavior on both sides. Gay rights groups, as they become stronger and stronger and get more support for same-sex marriagekeep demanding more and more. Now they dont want any religious exceptions for anybody, Laycocksaid. Republican legislators are pandering to the base and saying we need to protect against gay marriage. These statements from the right fuel the outrage on the left.

[Opinion: What will the Indiana religious freedom law really do?]

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How Indianas religious freedom law escalated to such national prominence

Liberty University Hosts Simulated BioTerror Attack

 Liberty  Comments Off on Liberty University Hosts Simulated BioTerror Attack
Mar 292015

Lynchburg, VA- A group of students at Liberty University learned how you would respond to a bioterror attack Saturday morning.

The demonstration involved the State Police and was at the Vines Center. The students learned that there’s a whole lot to responding to a bioterrorist attack.

The Virginia State Police Counter Terrorism & Criminal Interdiction Unit led the demonstration.

“We’ve heard not only from the news media ,but from throughout the world, there are attacks on Christians, there are attacks throughout the world. And we’re trying to prepare not only our students but local law enforcement agencies about how to handle a bioterrorist attack,” said Dr. James Mcclintok, the director of Forensic Science at Liberty University.

This simulated fog represents a dangerous micro-organism contaminating the air.

“Everyone’s afraid of a biological weapons attack, but no one really knows how to respond if it occurs of what to do, they’re just be wide-spread panic. So the more education there is for the public, the greater the chance lives will be saved if one of these events does occur,” said student Samuel Giovanucci, a Strategic Intelligence Major.

Liberty University students first needed to learn how to properly test it.

“It could potentially cause harm to us, our health and cause illness or even death. So we’re looking at the release of a biological agent and then our students will identify that agent for identification purposes,” said Mcclintok.

Students signed up to participate, some working on forensics, criminology, or biology classes, others just wanted to learn more and be prepared.

“Trying to prepare our students when they enter the working environment, how to be better prepared for such an attack,” said Mcclintok.

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Liberty University Hosts Simulated BioTerror Attack

Who's Going After D.C.'s Gun Laws? Marco Rubio Edition.

 Second Amendment  Comments Off on Who's Going After D.C.'s Gun Laws? Marco Rubio Edition.
Mar 272015

Because he’s probably running for President and he can, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) is messing with D.C.’s gun laws. Under a bill he introduced with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), all of D.C.’s gun laws would not only be undone, but local legislators would be restricted in their ability to pass any future laws restricting gun ownership.

The bill, whichshockeris backed by the National Rifle Association, would eliminate the District’s current concealed carry laws, allowing anyone to more easily obtain a concealed carry permit. Additionally, the bill, dubbed the The Second Amendment Enforcement Act of 2015, would allow D.C. residents to buy handguns from Maryland or Virginia, the latter of which has some of the most relaxed gun laws in the country.

Naturally, local legislators aren’t too happy with Rubio and Jordan’s bill. It should shock no one that Senator Rubio, who is widely expected to soon announce a run for President, would try to raise his national profile and conservative bona fides, but they should be shocked to hear that he would try to use our local jurisdiction and laws to violate his own support for the principle of local control, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton said in a statement. Such bullying is not very presidential.”

On Twitter, Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) said that “Senators are elected to pass or amend federal laws. If Rubio, Cruz, et al want to pass local laws, they should run for election in [sic] DC.”

Of course, this is hardly the first time a politician who does not represent the District tried to meddle with the city’s gun laws. Last summer, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced an amendment to a House appropriations bill today to stop D.C. from enforcing its local gun laws. It was ultimately struck down, but a Supreme Court decision led to the District’s concealed carry law, in which certain residents can apply for concealed carry permits.

You can read the full bill below:

Second Amendment Enforcement Act

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Who's Going After D.C.'s Gun Laws? Marco Rubio Edition.

Heres why Liberty University has become a pilgrimage site for GOP candidates

 Liberty  Comments Off on Heres why Liberty University has become a pilgrimage site for GOP candidates
Mar 262015

The marriage of conservative religion and politics at Liberty University has always been transparent. When Religious Right icon Jerry Falwell founded the school in 1971, its statement of purposecalled for commitment to a Christian worldview that includes Creationism, political conservatism and a firm support for Americas economic system of free enterprise.

The clarity worked. Since Ronald Reagan, Republican leaders have been making the pilgrimage to the mountains of central Virginia to speak at Liberty, which boomed under Falwell and his ability to draw evangelicals out of their churches and into public and political life.

But the cachet of appearing at Liberty has grown even more in the past decade as the school has exploded in size, financial resources and in its presence in places like Capitol Hill, where its alumni are now a familiar sight. Almost every single GOP presidential contender in recent years has spoken at Liberty, usually at its massive thrice-weekly chapel, which is held in a 12,000-seat sports arena and also watched by thousands of its 95,000 on-line students. It is the worlds largest Christian university with nearly 110,000 students.

But Ted Cruzs announcement Monday was the first time a candidate has actually unveiled their run for president at Liberty, solidifying it further as the symbolic hub of conservative Christianity.

Liberty has become to the academy what Fox News is to the media, said Johnnie Moore, an author, pastor and a former senior vice president at Liberty, where he was responsible for organizing the chapel sessions, called convocations. Appearances by more centrist GOP candidates John McCain (in 2006) and Mitt Romney (in 2012) helped establish its place, he said. No one was talking anymore about whether Liberty was the heart of conservatism. It became an institution that, whether you liked it or not, everyone in America has to pay attention to.

Liberty exemplifies in some ways the journey of conservative evangelicals in public life.

Just in the last decade it has created a law school, a medical school, an engineering school and has gone from $30 million in debt when Falwell died in 2007 to having $1.2 billion in cash reserves, buoyed by its on-line students. Libertys convocation is a must-stop not only for candidates but is also popular with well-known athletes, actors, political movers and shakers and megapastors who typically speak about religions essential role in public life. At a time when its common to hear about the death of the Religious Right, Libertysdaily existence pushes back, an argument for the success and relevance of conservative evangelical Christianity.

Yet some feel evangelical political power is still a work in progress. While half of GOP primary voters are evangelical, according to states with exit polls, the candidate they pick hasnt been selected as the nominee since George W. Bush, and no leader since Falwell has been able to assemble coalitions of such impact. Evangelicals are also somewhat more divided on some of the core issues that united them in Falwells day including issues of human sexuality and church-state relations.

To a group of Americans who wonder if their way of life is sustainable, Liberty is a promise that evangelicals can still thrive in the United States. Everywhere else you see churches with empty pews or Christian organizations that are bankrupt, said Liberty graduate Jonathan Merritt, son of a pastpresident of the Southern Baptist Convention and author of a book criticizing aspects of conservative evangelical culture. Liberty embodies a hope that a lot of conservative evangelicals need right now.

Merritt believes that part of the appeal of Liberty for a candidate looking to announce themselves to religious conservatives is that there arent other obvious options.

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Heres why Liberty University has become a pilgrimage site for GOP candidates

How to sell your house, a video SEO social media, Albemarle County Virginia real estate – Video

 SEO  Comments Off on How to sell your house, a video SEO social media, Albemarle County Virginia real estate – Video
Mar 262015

How to sell your house, a video SEO social media, Albemarle County Virginia real estate
This just in, occlusive evidence that Bill May Realty is beyond committed to exceptional service, above and beyond the call of duty. With Bill May ERA realty, your home is “sold”. With over…

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How to sell your house, a video SEO social media, Albemarle County Virginia real estate – Video

Freedom Industries pleads guilty to pollution charges in West Virginia chemical spill case

 Freedom  Comments Off on Freedom Industries pleads guilty to pollution charges in West Virginia chemical spill case
Mar 242015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. A now-bankrupt chemical company pleaded guilty Monday to three pollution charges related to last year’s spill that contaminated a West Virginia river.

Mark Welch, chief restructuring officer of Freedom Industries, entered the plea on behalf of the company in federal court to negligent discharge of a pollutant and unlawful discharge of refuse matter, both misdemeanors, and violating a permit condition under the Clean Water Act, a felony.

Thousands of gallons of a coal-cleaning agent from Freedom Industries in Charleston spilled into the Elk River and went into West Virginia American Water’s intake 2 miles downstream on Jan. 9, 2014. It prompted a tap water ban for 300,000 residents in nine counties for up to 10 days while the water company’s system was flushed out.

Freedom Industries, which filed for bankruptcy eight days after the spill, faces a maximum $900,000 fine. Sentencing was set for June 29.

“Extreme fines would be very difficult for the estate,” Welch told U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston. “I have limited resources.”

In ordering a presentencing report, Johnston said, “We’ll find out how much money Freedom Industries has.”

An FBI affidavit says Freedom knew about critical flaws at its Charleston plant but never dealt with them. Federal investigators have said holes in a corroded tank’s floor and roof likely helped cause the spill.

Prosecutors have said the tank conditions “put an entire population needlessly at risk.”

In September a federal bankruptcy judge approved a $2.9 million settlement between the company and businesses and residents under which a panel would choose public interest projects that would benefit those whose tap water was contaminated. The settlement would rely on insurance proceeds from Freedom Industries.

Former Freedom owners William Tis and Charles Herzing and two lower-level employees pleaded guilty to a pollution charge last week and will be sentenced in June.

Freedom Industries pleads guilty to pollution charges in West Virginia chemical spill case

Liberty University Yik Yak Flooded With Ted Cruz Posts During Republican's 2016 Candidacy Announcement

 Liberty  Comments Off on Liberty University Yik Yak Flooded With Ted Cruz Posts During Republican's 2016 Candidacy Announcement
Mar 242015

Since the anonymous social media app’s release two years ago, Yik Yak has become a landing place for college students’ thoughts on everything from dining hall food to final exams. But at Liberty University in Virginia Monday, a different subject dominated students’ Yik Yak feeds: politics. Dozens of users took to the app before, during and after Sen. Ted Cruz’s on-campus speech announcing his plans to run for U.S. president in 2016. Attendance was mandatory, Business Insider reported, and the Texas Republican’s audience had a lot to say.

Several users made jokes referencing Cruz’s use of “imagine,” a word he invoked 38 times during his announcement, according to atweetfrom Washington Post reporter Jose A. DelReal. Others repeated the now-famous statement made by Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch that “I’m just here so I won’t get fined,” as students who didn’t go to Cruz’s speech faced reprimands and a fine.

Some Paul supporters wore bright red shirts to steal attention away from Cruz’s speech as conversation on Yik Yak continued.

Liberty University is a private Christian university with about 13,500 residential students.CNN reportedCruz likely chose the college for his announcement because of its focus on conservative values, and he’s not the first to do so. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was the school’s commencement speaker in 2006. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney have also spoken before Liberty students.

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Liberty University Yik Yak Flooded With Ted Cruz Posts During Republican's 2016 Candidacy Announcement

Top Enterprise SEO Agency Awards Given out by 10 Best SEO

 SEO  Comments Off on Top Enterprise SEO Agency Awards Given out by 10 Best SEO
Mar 242015

San Francisco, California (PRWEB) March 23, 2015

10 Best SEO recently compiled a list of top 10 SEO firms to honor industry leaders for their accomplishments. The top three Best Enterprise SEO Agency award winners on the current list of companies are Digital Current, Boostability and Customer Magnetism.

Companies are quickly turning to 10 Best SEO to locate and contact top Web development companies that can help them become contenders on the Internet. Based out of San Francisco, 10 Best is proud of its marketing team that can analyze the practices and deliverable results for some of the best SEO companies around the world. Firms that made the list did so in the categories for best enterprise SEO agency, and top enterprise search engine optimization agency.

Digital Current is a best enterprise SEO firm that embraces the concept that each client comes with a unique set of circumstance and needs. The Mesa, Arizona company understands that the only way to deliver a successful package is to tailor content that will make each webpage unique and relevant for search. The company knows that increasing traffic will ultimately lead to increased conversions.

Boostablity is a leading enterprise search engine optimization agency based in Lehi, Utah. When companies look to find themselves in front of their customers, they turn to a Web development company like Boostability. As an enterprise-level optimization agency, theyre able to help companies target their customers on a consistent basis. Social media engagement is also a critical component of SEO. Boostability delivers in helping companies develop effective social media campaigns.

Based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Customer Magnetism is known for being able to build a companys global presence and has helped its clients develop partnerships with international conglomerates. This company knows how to make their clients brands the center of attention. As a top enterprise SEO agency, Customer Magnetism focuses on delivering long-term results. There is no one-size-fits-all mindset. A company always has the choice of going it alone with an in-house staff. However, staying abreast of the latest trends and methodologies in the field of SEO usually requires the expertise and knowledge of companies that do it for a living. They live and breathe SEO strategies. They know that a client’s success is their success.

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Top Enterprise SEO Agency Awards Given out by 10 Best SEO

Home For Sale: 315 Liberty Blvd Locust Grove, Virginia 22508 – Video

 Liberty  Comments Off on Home For Sale: 315 Liberty Blvd Locust Grove, Virginia 22508 – Video
Mar 212015

Home For Sale: 315 Liberty Blvd Locust Grove, Virginia 22508
For more information visit 315 Liberty Blvd Locust Grove, Virginia, 22508 MLS# OR8565459 Beds: 3 | Baths:…

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Home For Sale: 315 Liberty Blvd Locust Grove, Virginia 22508 – Video

10 Most Spectacular Dog Friendly Beaches in America – Video

 Beaches  Comments Off on 10 Most Spectacular Dog Friendly Beaches in America – Video
Mar 102015

10 Most Spectacular Dog Friendly Beaches in America
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Answers remains elusive in Freedom Industries bankruptcy case

 Freedom  Comments Off on Answers remains elusive in Freedom Industries bankruptcy case
Mar 092015

Officials overseeing the Freedom Industries bankruptcy on Tuesday touted progress on cleanup of the companys Elk River facility, but acknowledged that answers to other pressing issues that have stalled the resolution of the case remain elusive.

Still unclear are crucial decisions regarding how or when Freedom might obtain an insurance payment of more than $3 million for the January 2014 chemical leak, how victims might eventually be compensated, and whether additional funds can be recouped for the bankruptcy estate from various parties, including former Freedom owners and executives.

Weve got to make some progress on these things, said U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ronald Pearson. Lets get these things teed up.

Pearson spoke Tuesday morning to a courtroom full of lawyers representing Freedom Industries, various companies Freedom owes money to, victims, state agencies, West Virginia American Water and former Freedom officials.

The judge called a status conference of interested parties after observing in an early February order that the case was at a crossroads. At the time, Freedom had dwindling resources, with just $1.5 million in cash and $200 million in claims, and a liquidation plan that Pearson said he didnt think could ever be approved as written.

In a status report submitted on Friday, Freedoms court-approved chief restructuring officer, Mark Welch, said that the company currently has about $700,000 cash in hand. The report said Freedom hopes to get Pearsons approval to put about $450,000 of that into an escrow account to fund the rest of the remediation of the Elk River facility, site of the leak that contaminated drinking water for 300,000 residents across the Kanawha Valley and surrounding communities.

The report said that Freedom has spent no less than $10.5 million on matters relating to environmental compliance, testing and remediation since it filed for bankruptcy more than a year ago. After tearing down and removing more than a dozen chemical tanks at the Etowah Terminal along the Elk River, Welch also oversaw the removal of 600 tons of contaminated soil and construction of retention berms around the former footprint of the facilitys Crude MCHM tanks, the report said.

Shortly before Welch filed his status report with the bankruptcy court, the state Department of Environmental Protection accepted the Freedom site into its voluntary industrial cleanup program. The move gives the company 31 days to negotiate with the DEP on a schedule for developing its final cleanup plan.

Welch said in his report that he believes Freedoms only remaining remediation work involves capping the MCHM portion of the facility, monitoring, ongoing stormwater collection and additional water and other testing.

Acceptance into the voluntary DEP program allows Freedom to clean up the site based on some as-yet-undetermined risk-based contamination standard, as opposed to previous state agency orders that required all MCHM contamination at the location to be removed. DEP Secretary Randy Huffman has said, though, that Freedom must clean up the site so that the risk of this stuff getting back in the water has been eliminated — not just minimized.

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Answers remains elusive in Freedom Industries bankruptcy case

Two Freedom officials to plead guilty, prosecutors say

 Freedom  Comments Off on Two Freedom officials to plead guilty, prosecutors say
Mar 092015

Two former Freedom Industries officials who were indicted on Clean Water Act charges have agreed to plead guilty in the governments case over the January 2014 Elk River chemical leak that contaminated the drinking water for hundreds of thousands of residents, prosecutors revealed in court documents filed Wednesday morning.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip Wright filed separate motions this morning in U.S. District Court in Charleston, asking to schedule guilty plea hearings in the cases involving former Freedom officials William Tis and Charles Herzing.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin confirmed that Tis and Herzing had both reached plea agreements with his office.

Tis and Herzing were both charged with three misdemeanor water pollution crimes in an indictment handed up by a federal grand jury in December. Both had pleaded not guilty. Trial was scheduled to start on March 10, but the defendants had already asked for a delay in the proceedings.

The two men are among six former Freedom officials facing criminal charges following Goodwins investigation of the Jan. 9, 2014, spill of Crude MCHM and other chemicals from a storage tank at the companys facility, located just 1.5 miles up the Elk River from West Virginia American Waters regional drinking water plant.

Former Freedom officials Dennis Farrell and Gary Southern both also face three Clean Water Act charges, and Southern faces separate bankruptcy fraud charges for allegedly trying to hide his personal wealth from Freedoms bankruptcy proceeding and from civil lawsuits filed against the company over the spill. Farrell and Southern have both pleaded not guilty.

Also Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Thomas E. Johnston agreed to delay trial in the cases from March 10 until Oct. 6.

Pre-trial motions are due Aug. 21, responses due Aug. 28, and a pre-trial hearing was scheduled for Sept. 2, according to a two-page order Johnston entered Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier in the day Wednesday, prosecutors also filed motions to schedule guilty plea hearings for Freedom Industries and for two other Freedom officials, Michael Burdette and Robert Reynolds, who face charges related to the spill.

Freedom Industries has said in a prepared statement that it has reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors on one felony and two misdemeanor Clean Water Act charges outlined in an information filed against the company. An information is a charging document that generally indicates that the defendant is cooperating with authorities and has reached a plea agreement.

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Two Freedom officials to plead guilty, prosecutors say

Pierre Teilhard De Chardin | Designer Children | Prometheism | Euvolution | Transhumanism