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    Thursday, September 14, 2006

    Newsflashes: Great News!

    There has been an important development in the Veteran Pentacle Quest!

    Although the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) still has not
    approved the Pentacle, Sgt. Stewart is getting the Pentacle on his plaque!

    The Nevada Office of Veterans Services announced today that they have
    taken action to get Sgt. Stewart's plaque with the Pentacle on it
    produced and installed on the Wall of Heroes at the Northern Nevada Veterans
    Memorial Cemetery in Fernley, Nevada.

    This decision was made after the Nevada Attorney General's Office
    determined that the state has sole discretion over state veteran

    Tim Tetz, the Executive Director of the Nevada Office of Veterans
    Services, said in a press release issued today: "I promised his widow and
    many others that we would diligently pursue every option to make certain
    Sgt. Stewart received recognition for his contributions as an Army
    soldier, a Nevadan, and an American hero."

    Roberta Stewart was ecstatic and expressed thanks: "Thank you and the
    State of Nevada for your on-going support on this issue and for
    standing up and doing the right thing by honoring my husband for his and our
    family's sacrifices. It gives me great peace to know my husband did not
    die in vain and I hope that the VA will follow suit and approve the
    Wiccan emblem for its National Cemetery Administration's emblem of belief
    list so that soldiers of all faiths can be honored equally."

    Rev. Selena Fox, Senior Minister of Circle Sanctuary, also was
    delighted by the news: "I am thrilled that the State of Nevada stepped in and
    took action so that Sgt. Stewart is properly honored. The service and
    sacrifice of Sgt. Stewart and the US Constitution should not have been
    ignored due to bureaucratic roadblocks. It is time for the VA to
    approve the Pentacle for veteran grave markers and stop its pattern of
    disregard, delay, and discrimination against the Wiccan religion, Wiccan
    veterans, and their families."

    Although the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has had requests
    for more than nine years to add the Pentacle to the list of emblems of
    belief that can be included on the headstones, markers, and plaques they
    issue for deceased veterans, it has failed to do so. Thus far, the VA
    has continued to maintain that it needs to revise its procedures again,
    an excuse it has repeatedly used in the past in response to Wiccans
    requesting that the Pentacle be added to the list. During the nine-year
    period of keeping the Pentacle pending, the VA has approved emblems of
    belief for six other religions and philosophies.

    Americans United for Separation of Church and State is representing
    Roberta Stewart and Circle Sanctuary. Barry Lynn, Executive Director of
    Americans United, praised Nevada Governor Kenny C. Guinn for the move
    and called on VA officials to stop dragging their feet. He said other
    Wiccan families are still waiting for the VA to add the Pentacle to their
    list of emblems of belief. Lynn says "We will continue to press this
    issue until the federal government gives a favorable response."

    More information about the Veteran Pentacle Quest is on-line:

    Please spread the news -- forward to lists, websites, media sources,
    blogs, and others who may be interested. Thanks!

    Circle Times: Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    Transprency Act Passes!

    We had to share this news immediately . . .

    On September 5th we launched a campaign for the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act. This bill requires the government to create a searchable, online database of "who, how much, and why," for everyone who receives more than $25,000 from the federal government.

    This bill would make it possible to know, for the first time, who is feeding at the federal trough. Having this database would be a major step forward in exposing government corruption, special favors, corporate welfare, and waste.

    It's exactly the kind of thing people say Congress would never pass, because it threatens Congressional power. We hear it all the time about "Read the Bills," "Write the Laws," and our proposed "One Subject at a Time Act." Nearly everyone likes these proposals, but many are certain they could never pass.

    The people who say that are just plain wrong, and the fate of the Transparency Act proves it.

    * The Senate passed this legislation Thursday night, by unanimous consent, 100 to NOTHING!
    * House and Senate leaders have already agreed to common language for the bill.
    * The final version is expected to steamroll through both Houses.

    DC Downsizers helped make this happen. Your calls and messages helped force Congress to take this step. Congress did this because it was too embarrassing for them not to do it.

    It is important to note that the level of pressure it took to accomplish this was nowhere near the level we aim to achieve to pass "Read the Bills," "Write the Laws," and the "One Subject at a Time Act." It did not require relentless, inescapable, mind-numbing pressure to pass the Transparency Act. It may not take that much pressure to pass the Downsize DC Agenda either, but we will keep going until we've reached whatever amount of pressure it will take.

    The point is this: Congress can be forced to submit to common sense reform. It isn't a matter of IF we will pass RTBA and the other bills, but WHEN. So take heart, and chip into the effort. This can work, and it will work if YOU make it work.

    Congratulations on a big success. And thank you for being a DC Downsizer.

    Perry Willis
    Communications Director
    DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

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