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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


More stupid

Top Iraqi official held in raid

US and Iraqi forces in Baghdad have arrested the deputy health minister during a raid at his offices.

The minister, Hakem al-Zamili, is a key member of the political group led by radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr.

He is accused of aiding Shia militiamen and using ambulances to move weapons, a ministry source told the BBC.

US and Iraqi troops have been trying to curb sectarian attacks in Iraq. The latest raid came as a car bomb killed at least 15 people south of Baghdad.

A parked car bomb struck a market in the predominantly Shia town of al-Aziziya, also wounding dozens of people.

The raid on the health ministry took place on Thursday morning.

New pressure on Mehdi Army

Iraqi officials say US and Iraqi troops broke down doors in the ministry's offices in central Baghdad in their search for Mr Zamili.

The minister and some of his guards were arrested.

Mr Sadr's group accused the US of provocation and urged the government to take immediate action to free the official.

"They are trying to drag the Sadrist movement to a confrontation. How else would arresting a deputy health minister without an arrest warrant be read," Abdel Mahdi al-Matiri, an official in Mr Sadr's movement, told Reuters news agency.

When the Madhi Army strikes, it's going to be ugly

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