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Copyright 2005 Boston Herald Inc.

The Boston Herald
September 7, 2005 Wednesday

LENGTH: 381 words

`Sopranos' Tony goes for a little Romance

VENICE - TV mob boss James Gandolfini took a break from filming his hit HBO series, ``The Sopranos,'' yesterday to flog his raunchy musical, ``Romance & Cigarettes,'' here at the 52nd Annual Venice Film Festival.

Also making the red carpet scene at yesterday's world premiere of John Turturro's latest flick - about a long-married couple thrown into crisis by the hubby's affair with a British tart - was the director himself along with co-stars Susan Sarandon and Aida Turturro. The tart, Kate Winslet, was MIA from the premiere.

For Gandolfini, playing a construction worker who bursts into song wasn't planned as a way to escape Tony Soprano's sizable shadow on his career.

``When I read the script it was so original and so different and it made me laugh so much, I didn't think of changing or going away from Tony Soprano,'' he said. ``I don't look at things like that. I thought it was wonderful so I wanted to do it.''

But don't be looking for Gandolfini to be hoofing in ``The Producers'' on Broadway anytime soon!

``You can ask Tricia Brouk, the choreographer, about my future in dance,'' he laughed. ``It's absolutely zero. I found a new respect for dancers in every way. I had no idea how difficult it was and how strong you have to be.''

In ``Romance,'' Susan Sarandon gives her cheating spouse the old heave-ho. What about in real life?

``I'm glad Tim isn't here to hear this answer,'' she said of long-time love Tim Robbins. ``My feelings about that have changed as I've gotten older and made more mistakes myself.

``Where I used to pack my bags and leave at 4 a.m. has changed,'' she said. ``I don't know if people are meant to stay together for years and years without making a mistake. I think it's very difficult to be married and difficult to be monogamous but everyone has to figure it out. It has to do with what you find personally compromising.''

Asked if protesting against the Iraq war had hurt her career in Hollywood, Sarandon drew laughs saying, ``The only thing you can do in Hollywood to end your career is get old and fat. That's the extent of Hollywood's politics.''

The film festival's finale is Saturday. Presently, George Clooney's ``Good Night, And Good Luck,'' his Edward R. Murrow-Joe McCarthy flick, is the odds-on fave to win the Gold Lion as Best Picture.
LOAD-DATE: September 7, 2005

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Copyright 2005 Boston Herald Inc.

The Boston Herald
September 7, 2005 Wednesday

LENGTH: 527 words

Assessing the aftermath

Mother Nature showed once again that she's the ultimate terrorist. And Hurricane Katrina has been trailed by a blizzard of excuses, accusations and lies.

Despite expert warnings, nobody in either party was prepared for devastation of this magnitude. There was no way to fix things instantly when disaster struck.

That said, there were infuriating weaknesses in our response. The worst were local. But there were delays and errors at the federal level.

Dishonest or naive voices insist - wrongly - that everything would have been fine if the National Guard hadn't been in Iraq. Just not true. Yet, there were some similarities between our arrival in Baghdad and Katrina's arrival in New Orleans.

Our troops were sent into Iraq without an occupation plan and now we find that, four years after 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security, which swallowed the Federal Emergency Management Agency, appears to have done no serious planning for a national disaster.

Which brings me to another problem the Bushies routinely have: The unwillingness to promptly take on criminals. We failed to do it in Baghdad and the results plague us. By letting a minority of the people to terrorize the storm's victims, we betrayed our fellow Americans.

The War on Terror, too, begins at home.

While the federal response was not quite as tardy as the media would have you believe, we could have done much better. Here's what the military can do in a disaster:

** Establish an immediate presence that fosters order.

** Provide command, control and communications for relief officials.

** Raise civilian morale simply by showing up.

** Coordinate initial logistics efforts.

** Search and rescue. Our military, including the splendid Coast Guard, did move fast on this front.

What's striking is that the administration and Homeland Security didn't seem to grasp all the resources available to them or even what their responsibilities were. The clumsy initial response to Katrina must have Islamist terrorists stroking their beards, smiling and thinking ahead.

As for the nonsense that the National Guard should never have been sent to Iraq, the Guard's primary mission is to help fight our nation's wars.

The real problem is that we had plenty of resources, but failed to use them promptly. The Department of Homeland Security is in way over its head and needs help.

The Pentagon needs to be tasked to be prepared. Existing plans are inadequate.

And this doesn't mean a ``military takeover.'' It just means putting grownups in charge of saving Americans.

Yet, relief efforts have grown more impressive by the day. We're Americans. We roll up our sleeves and fix things.

As for our ``friends'' in Europe, they've been gloating over our tragedy.

Well we may find that a few thousand Americans died in a natural catastrophe. But in 2003, during a heat wave, 25,000 elderly Europeans died unnecessarily in France, Italy and Germany while their leaders went on vacation - and stayed on vacation. Katrina wasn't preventable, but those elderly deaths were.

I'll take America. On our worst day.

Ralph Peters' latest book is ``New Glory, Expanding America's Global Supremacy.'' This column first ran in the New York Post.
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The Boston Herald
September 6, 2005 Tuesday

LENGTH: 301 words
HEADLINE: Fallujah political scene keeps Marine engaged

When Iraqis go to the polls next month to vote on a draft constitution, Marine Corps Lt. Col. Jim Haldeman will be sitting on the edge of his seat at home in West Kingstown, R.I., anxiously rooting for a big turnout.

``It's going to be a nail-biter for me. I'm going to watch that election more than I did the Bush-Gore campaign,'' Haldeman said by telephone from a bullet-riddled compound in Fallujah, Iraq.

The 50-year-old American Airlines pilot is technically retired from the Marine Corps, but he volunteered to put the uniform back on to help rebuild Fallujah.

As the director of civil military operations, Haldeman's job for the past six months has been to help the people of Fallujah assemble a local government and prepare for the constitutional referendum.

Haldeman spends most of his time talking with the city's community leaders and officials of the fledgling local government.

``We have weekly meetings with the tribal sheiks and the religious imams,'' Haldeman said.

The hearts-and-minds mission is a big change for a Marine officer who spent his career as an artilleryman and then a fighter pilot.

Haldeman said the city remains ``beaten up bad,'' but he sees encouraging signs of rebirth.

``Markets are open. Streets are clean. The electricity is being turned on in areas that never had electricity to begin with,'' he said.

Even so, Marines in Fallujah continue to take deadly fire from insurgents. Relaxing checkpoints to allow goods into the city also allows insurgents to slip back in, Haldeman said.

But he hopes the people of Fallujah will reject violence by choosing to vote in large numbers.

Only about 7,000 of Fallujah's 150,000 voting-age residents voted in the last election, Haldeman said. He hopes to see that number increase more than fivefold to about 40,000 in the Oct. 5 referendum.
GRAPHIC: OPTIMISTIC: Marine Lt. Col. Jim Haldeman, right, of West Kingstown, R.I., meets with Gen. Salah Sheik Khali, center, and an unidentified serviceman in Fallujah, Iraq, ahead of next month's constitutional referendum.
LOAD-DATE: September 6, 2005

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The Boston Herald
September 6, 2005 Tuesday

LENGTH: 689 words

Votes won't solve issue

If columnist Virginia Buckingham wants to have a statewide vote on same-sex marriage, would she also be in favor of a nationwide vote on withdrawing from Iraq (``Let the voters be heard,'' Sept. 1)?

If she is so appalled by the happiness of gay couples in our state and so angry that the voters had no say in it, how does she think the anti-war crowd feels about what is being done overseas in their name? If we put every major decision up to a vote in this country, we could very well still be fighting the Civil War.

It's been nearly two years since same-sex marriage has been legal in this state, and the right wing is still fixated on stopping it. Thousands of gay couples are minding their own business, happily married, and no buildings have crumbled because of it.

- Joseph Rich, Dedham

More cops, not buildings

I don't know what the big fuss is over building a new police station in Charlestown when the question should be how it will be staffed (``Policing Charlestown,'' Aug. 30)?

It seems the graduating classes at the police academy are getting smaller every year. Is there any correlation to the upswing in crime and the shortage of police officers? Instead of spending millions on new buildings, why not put more officers on the streets?

- Maureen DeCoste, Hyde Park

Joe K can't be blamed

So let me get this straight. If a person is injured in an accident, and the other party is wealthy, the wealthy party must take care of that person for the rest of her life? Giving $50,000 after she received $600,000 is not enough? That's what Herald columnist Howie Carr is asking Joe Kennedy to do for Pam Kelley (``If she can't move this Kennedy, then no one can,'' Aug. 31).

I feel nothing but sorrow for her injury, but people in this country are maimed in accidents every day. Maybe the Herald should investigate where Kelley invested her money. Not every deed the Kennedys have done is bad.

- Matthew Tierney, Weymouth

Working class pays price

I would have rephrased the question to Gov. Mitt Romney, and President Bush, as follows: If this war were so noble, would you encourage your children to enlist for this noble cause (``Mitt backs war but HIS boys are safe at home,'' Aug. 27)?

I already know the answer. The children of affluence do not go to war and the working class and minorities have always fought America's wars. Recruiters are preying on kids in the inner-city knowing that they lack the options for jobs and education that affluent people have. How many of our current leaders served in the military?

War was always a last resort before this administration struck preemptively. This administration has failed to initiate a draft because it will include the once-excluded affluent, privileged sons and daughters of our leaders.

- John L. Murray, Somerville, Veterans For Peace

Credit due Wilcox

I would like to give Herald photojournalist John Wilcox a lot of credit (``Photographer can't just focus on beauty,'' Sept. 1). Reading his experiences over the last few days has been very moving.

Some of us who lose our loved ones never really know what happened at the time of their death. Wilcox gave that family the closure any family who had lost someone could ask for.

Some people responded negatively to the coverage on John Gagliardi's death. They need to take into consideration all parties involved. I am sure it has not been easy for Wilcox these last few days.

I truly do wish Wilcox and the Gagliardis well.

- Beverly Martin, South Boston

Abuse at the pumps

If President Bush were really for the majority of the people, he would put a price ceiling on gasoline and oil, or even nationalize the oil, but that is only a pipe dream (``Gas panic,'' Sept. 2). Price gouging at the pump will continue because there is no one to stop it.

- Bob Shurdut, Newton

No time to blame

Many thanks for exposing Robert Kennedy Jr. (``Critics fiddle as Gulf Coast drowns,'' Sept. 1).

His politicizing of the terrible tragedy in the South by blaming Republicans is unconscionable and unforgivable. Just another Kennedy showing the true family colors. The Globe and The New York Times are just as bad.

- Dennis Brennan, Foxboro
LOAD-DATE: September 6, 2005

204 of 675 DOCUMENTS

Copyright 2005 Boston Herald Inc.

The Boston Herald
September 6, 2005 Tuesday

LENGTH: 602 words

Mitt, you must stand the heat
BYLINE: By Virginia Buckingham

``Wanted: A conservative Republican presidential candidate with crossover appeal in blue states. Tall, dark, handsome, a plus. Thick skin a must.''

Before you answer that ad, Gov. Mitt Romney, you'd better work on the last attribute - the one that's far more important than the others. If Romney thinks Boston politics and the local media are tough, he ain't seen nothin' yet.

The governor got hot under the collar when Herald reporter Maggie Mulvihill asked him whether he'd encourage his five sons to serve in the military. After all, the day before, he'd come out strongly in favor of President Bush's position of staying the course in Iraq. (In fairness, Romney was asked the Iraq question by a reporter; he didn't seek to jump into foreign affairs.) Nonetheless, his view was news, and with Cindy Sheehan at the time camped out in Crawford, and the raw emotions of other military family members on display on the nightly news, it would have been strange if the governor wasn't asked such an obvious question.

``No, I have not urged my own children to enlist. I don't know the status of my children's potentially enlisting in the Guard and Reserve.'' Romney said, his voice tinged with anger, reported Mulvihill.

I don't know anything about the Romney family's personal lives, other than what's been in the papers, but his wife's health, his sons' business affairs, his missionary work in France and every other part of his family and faith will be fairly - and unfairly - scrutinized if he makes the leap to the national stage.

And the focus on Romney's leadership in the Mormon church won't be the exceedingly sophisticated stuff seeped into the political consciousness by Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1994 (and recently in a flattering Atlantic Monthly profile of Romney, where Kennedy coyly exclaimed to the reporter at the end of the interview, ``The one question you didn't ask,'' he said, ``was about Mormonism, whether it would hurt him in a national campaign'' - thus ensuring the reporter would do just that.

Think of the power of a conservative Christian group forming a Swift Boat-like 527 committee called ``Not under the banner of our heaven,'' playing on a recent bestseller critical of Mormonism, and spending millions raising such questions.

It could get ugly. And chances are, it will.

But what voters care most about is how Romney handles the pressure.

The stress of a campaign is a microcosm (with far lower stakes) of the stress of being president. So a candidate who blows his top over a media question, or critical media coverage, raises doubts how he'll handle himself when, say, Russian President Vladimir Putin double deals with the United States on some treaty.

A friend once gave me a jar of hand cream covered with a fake label that claimed the stuff was actually ``skin-thickening cream.'' Nice thought, that, but there's no such magic elixir on the market. So how to grow one?

* Surround yourself with ``no'' men, not yes-men.

It's always better to hear the worst criticism in friendly surroundings. If Romney didn't get a sarcastic, ``Well hello, Gov. Landslide'' from someone on his staff after his ill-considered prediction on national television that he would win by one if he ran for re-election, he's not being served well.

* Take a tough hit in the newspaper? Don't ignore it, but don't whine about it, either.

* Have a sense of humor. Romney has shown a self-deprecating streak in the past. It's disarming and illustrates self-confidence.

* Most important of all: Never let 'em see you sweat, gov. Thick skin doesn't have pores.

- Talk back to Virginia Buckingham at

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