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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


CNN: "Wiccan symbol OK for soldiers' graves"

Not a Satanist symbol

Wiccan symbol OK for soldiers' graves

MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) -- The Wiccan pentacle has been added to the list of emblems allowed in national cemeteries and on government-issued headstones of fallen soldiers, according to a settlement announced Monday.

A settlement between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Wiccans adds the five-pointed star to the list of "emblems of belief" allowed on VA grave markers.

Eleven families nationwide are waiting for grave markers with the pentacle, said Selena Fox, a Wiccan high priestess with Circle Sanctuary in Barneveld, Wisconsin, a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

The settlement calls for the pentacle, whose five points represent earth, air, fire, water and spirit, to be placed on grave markers within 14 days for those who have pending requests with the VA. (Watch what the headstones might look like )

"I am glad this has ended in success in time to get markers for Memorial Day," Fox said.

The VA sought the settlement in the interest of the families involved and to save taxpayers the expense of further litigation, VA spokesman Matt Burns said. The agency also agreed to pay $225,000 in attorneys' fees and costs.

The pentacle has been added to 38 symbols the VA already permits on gravestones. They include commonly recognized symbols for Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism, as well as those for smaller religions such as Sufism Reoriented, Eckankar and the Japanese faith Seicho-No-Ie.

"This settlement has forced the Bush Administration into acknowledging that there are no second class religions in America, including among our nation's veterans," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which represented the Wiccans in the lawsuit.

Gilly was actually following this issue for a while, and I'm glad it got resolved in the families' favor. Now, we all just have to sit back and wait (pass the popcorn) for some dumbfuck six-toed Christofascist to try to deface a stone at Arlington that sports a pentagram. I say "try"--if an honor guard doesn't cap his ass, it'll be fun seeing how Mr. Tough Guy likes Club Fed (once he gets out of the hospital from being worked over by the MPs). Hopefully the judge will give him the option of enlisting.

-- Jen

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