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Iraq - there is the infuriating struggle he's had here at home, with shots fired at his Lawrence home and legions of raucous clubgoers who've been partying across the street for several years.

To this incendiary mix, add what Cotnoir told the police Saturday morning about the disagreement he'd had with his wife and the beer he'd consumed. Hopefully, the totality of stress in Cotnoir's life will be addressed by a system that balances justice with compassion.

If nothing else, it would be nice to think the city of Lawrence has learned something as well. With his single act of bad judgment, a proud Marine may have provided his city with a chance to prevent a larger tragedy from happening.
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August 17, 2005 Wednesday

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HEADLINE: Local activists join vigils to support anti-war mom

Cindy Sheehan's determination will burn brightly at 1,000 candlelight vigils nationwide tonight.

The lobbying group is organizing the show of solidarity with the grieving mom turned anti-war icon, and local anti-war groups are joining in on the streets of Brookline, Somerville, Newton, Wellesley, Framingham, Natick and Sherborn.

``I am a mother, and I think as a parent, you . . . start to examine the reason that our country is at war, and it leaves a lot of questions,'' said Judith Rich, a Natick mother organizing that town's vigil.

Sheehan lost her son Casey in Iraq about a year ago. She started a sit-in outside the president's Crawford, Texas, ranch Aug. 6 and has demanded an audience with the commander in chief. President Bush has said he sympathizes with Sheehan but has given no indication he will meet with her. The president's Texas neighbors complained yesterday, saying the California mother's protest is becoming a nuisance.

Participants in tonight's vigils are expected to pause for 30 minutes, organizers said.

``I guess I'd say I'm glad Cindy Sheehan has brought attention to the war,'' said Nancy Stoodt, organizer of Framingham's vigil. ``I think we need some answers as to why we're there. We need a clear strategy that will help us be able to leave Iraq, and not be there for years.''

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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August 17, 2005 Wednesday

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HEADLINE: Editorial;

Nations must treat all wounds of war

Once Sgt. Daniel Cotnoir's superiors learned of his work at the family funeral home back in Lawrence, he was assigned one of the most gruesome duties of war.

Cotnoir spent his days and nights in Iraq LITERALLY scraping body parts off the ground and piecing them back together.

Among other appalling tasks, he retrieved the remains of four civilian contractors who were strung up on a Fallujah bridge.

All this as bullets flew, and roadside bombs blew up, creating what must have seemed like endless work for Cotnoir's team.

It will be up to a court to decide whether the Marine reservist was mentally competent when he inexplicably fired a shotgun from his bedroom window into a crowd of noisy revelers early Saturday morning, injuring two people.

But clearly this one-time Marine of the Year was troubled. He told interviewers before the shooting that he was having difficulty adjusting to life at home. He apparently sought help for what he thought might be post-traumatic stress disorder.

Like Cotnoir, thousands of veterans are returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan in a fragile mental state, and they need ready access to psychological evaluation and treatment.

A July 2004 study by the New England Journal of Medicine found 17 percent of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from major depression or PTSD.

New Hampshire had the right idea when it began mandatory mental health screenings for returning National Guardsmen and reservists. Massachusetts is wisely considering the same move.

Currently, most service members are asked to fill out a questionnaire aimed at detecting signs of depression or PTSD before they are sent home. That isn't enough.

U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan (D-Lowell) has introduced a bill that requires more rigorous psychological evaluations for members of all military branches, pre- and post-deployment. He has already won support for a national awareness campaign to erase the stigma some soldiers associate with asking for help.

``Society has changed in terms of the stigma, but I don't think the military has as much as we need it to,'' he said.

Better screening is not a cure-all, because you can't force people to get treatment and for many people, the symptoms don't show up for months.

But we learned many lessons from Vietnam, one of them a better grasp of the toll war takes on a soldier's mind. The military must do whatever it can to identify those who need help, and make sure they get it.
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August 17, 2005 Wednesday

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HEADLINE: LETTERS to the editor

Cotnoir still hero

Lissette Cumba was hit by a few shotgun fragments as part of a bottle-throwing crowd outside a Lawrence club (Aug. 15). The shooter in question, Sgt. Daniel Cotnoir, will be dealt with fairly, within our system of justice, which he defended as a Marine. That is more than the victims' friends and family offered Cotnoir outside his own home. The 15-year-old girl was out after 2:45 a.m., and her youth, ignorance and disrespect is evident in her saying that a decorated Marine who served as a military mortician in Iraq doesn't deserve any of his military awards because he shot into the hostile crowd.

What has one thing to do with the other? Lissette's and her family's feigned attempts at victimhood are lost on me.

- Donald Everett, Somerville

Insult to her son

The editorial ``No meeting in the middle'' (Aug. 12) was actually too easy on Cindy Sheehan. This woman should be challenged to apologize to President Bush for calling him ``Fuhrer.'' Many of her letters and assorted babblings are there for all to see on various Websites. Why has she not been confronted regarding this particular insult?

- Ritchie C. Tiemann, Dorchester

Cash and closings

Your coverage about whether money from a church closing belongs to the church itself or the archdiocese cleared up some difficulties for me (``Vatican: Put down the cash,'' Aug. 11).

Our parish, St. Timothy's Church in Norwood, spent $400,000 to tear down the choir loft, install a new bathroom and renovate the reconciliation room.

Some of us were appalled because our pastor did this at a time when your newspaper, for one, published stories saying that our archbishop had declared the archdiocese bankrupt and had stated that he would not allow any renovations, only needed repairs. It was obvious that tearing down the choir loft was not a ``needed repair.'' Now that I have read your story that says the Vatican has announced that the money belongs to the parish and not to the archdiocese, I am not as appalled as I was before.

Still I wonder why our pastor's timing was so bad. The choir loft was not in poor condition and was still being used when the newspapers were full of stories about how lawsuits were being brought against our archdiocese.

- Elizabeth Breton, Walpole

A hypocritical wind

Thank you for that wonderful headline (``Group tilts to windmills north of Hub,'' Aug. 10). I was delighted to see the names of the two loudest NIMBY group locations included. The residents of both these islands have been the biggest opponents of any form of exploration or development of energy in the whole country. Now let them pay.

I suggest they put their yacht sails or even a windmill on their SUVS. After all, the wind is free and will not cost as much as their own hot air.

- Frank Rogers, Quincy

It's the fan's choice

If I pay for game tickets and my 6 1/2-month-old daughter is hungry, I do not expect my wife to leave her seat (``Breast defense,'' Aug. 10). If you expect my daughter to have dinner in the restroom, then I expect everyone to take their $5 hot dog and $7 beer and leave your $75 seat and head over to the restrooms to eat.

Personally I think a sporting event is no place for a child that young. However, if someone decides it is appropriate to attend an event with their child, they should have every right to breastfeed. Maybe they should have a private breastfeeding area right next to the half-dressed cheerleaders.

- Chad Leclair, New Bedford

Mortgage exploitation

Similar to credit card companies, mortgage companies have been making substantial profits from fees and penalties. If a mortgage is paid even a few days late, there is a penalty fee (``Foreclosed out on the street,'' Aug. 4). Many borrowers routinely pay high costs to wire or pay by check over the phone to avoid even higher fees for paying a single day after the deadline. Mortgages also are often obtained from reputable banks and then sold to aggressive subprime lenders, less lenient and willing to cooperate with borrowers.

Elected representatives for communities experiencing substantial foreclosure activity should publicly offer support and suggestions, similar to the attention given to affordable housing for renters. The elderly individuals, profiled in the Herald, facing foreclosure are assets to the community, stably employed and a provider of rental housing.

Devender Coleman, Boston
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August 17, 2005 Wednesday

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Media, G.I. clash on the `real' Iraq picture

The huge jug stuffed with change and dollar bills had become fixture on the counter at Ray's sub shop, just down from the Herald.

It started out as a small effort to provide a neighborhood guy and a few of his buddies serving in Iraq with some snacks and goodies they couldn't get in the mess hall. The packs of Oreos and peanut butter crackers became such a hit that soon the proceeds from the jar were providing snacks to much of a unit from the Third Infantry Division. They in turn sent a ``team'' photo and Staff Sgt. Jose R. Marichal Jr. wrote a thank you note. But it was far more than that. It was a brief glimpse into the hearts of those serving in Iraq and into their world.

``Every day young American soldiers place their lives on the line of fire for many different reasons,'' he wrote. ``Some soldiers were prepared to transition back to the civilian world but decided to stay because of the man next to him. Some fight for the 3,000 lives lost on Sept. 11, for the brothers they lost in battle, and some for something we all take for granted, `freedom.' ''

He writes of working side-by-side with other military branches and with ``the growing Iraqi Army.''

``On daily patrols, we see men working to rebuild their country, women teaching and living more peaceful lives. Then there's the next generation, the children who every day are spoiled by American troops with candy, toys and, most of the time, a smile.''

It would be tempting to send a reporter's notebook with that next shipment of Oreos, because heaven knows, not much of that part of the Iraq story is being told.

That fact was duly noted at last month's meeting of editors from the member newspapers of The Associated Press and reported in Monday's New York Times.

People like Rosemary Goudreau, editorial page editor of the Tampa Tribune, complained, ``The bottom-line question was people wanted to know if we're making progress in Iraq.''

The smaller the paper, the more dependent on A.P.

Put on the defensive, Mike Silverman, managing editor of the A.P., vowed that Robert H. Reid, A.P. correspondent in Iraq, would write an overview piece every 10 days.

This is part of what he filed Tuesday: ``With no end to the insurgency in sight and more than 1,850 American service members dead, a new constitution would prove that Iraq is on its way to a democratic future. More than two years after the U.S.-led invasion, Baghdad remains too dangerous for Westerners to walk the streets freely. Bombs and bullets kill dozens across the country every day.

``And while some progress has been made in renovating schools and other infrastructure projects, the electricity system is still a mess and the oil fields are not producing to capacity.''

This, however, is what the Brookings Institution Iraq Index (updated every Monday and Thursday) had to say:

The pre-war average megawatt hours of electricity generated was some 95,000. Today the electricity system that's such a ``mess'' is generating 102,375 megawatt hours of power. The oil fields aren't back to their pre-war capacity of some 2.5 million barrels a day, but from a post-war low of 300,000 barrels a day in May 2003, production is back up to 2.22 million barrels a day.

Brookings also tracks other ``quality of life'' stats, such as the 351 judges newly trained and the 3.95 million telephone subscribers (up from a pre-war level of 833,000).

Maybe it's time Reid dropped the B-matter boilerplate and spent some time with guys like Sgt. Marichal.

Rachelle Cohen is editor of the editorial pages.
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August 17, 2005 Wednesday

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Babs is back, and has her
BODY: launched the world premiere yesterday of a new Barbra Streisand music video, ``Stranger in a Strange Land,'' that, yes, references the war in Iraq. The new Streisand video, which also features harmonizing vocals from Barry Gibb, is available exclusively online at Amazon for the next week.

Babs and Gibb's forthcoming DualDisc, ``Guilty Pleasures,'' will be released Sept. 20. - SEAN L. McCARTHY

`Race' is on for Aiellos

Among the clans participating on CBS' ``The Amazing Race: Family Edition,'' premiering Sept. 27, is the Aiello family of Mansfield, consisting of father Tony, 57, and his three sons-in-law, Kevin, Matt and David. Ten families will compete for the $1 million prize.

Ben on the small screen

Ben Affleck is taking another shot at television, closing in on a deal with ABC for a drama pilot about a fractured America. Affleck will write and executive produce a pilot called ``Resistance,'' about a near-future United States that has splintered into separate nations following devastating terrorist attacks.

Top 10 national prime-time TV shows

The ranking of the nation's top 10 prime-time network shows for Aug. 8-14 is based on their ratings. A ratings point equals 1 percent of the nation's estimated 109.6 million TV homes.

1. ``CSI: Crime Scene Investigation'' (CBS).......9.3

2. ``Without a Trace'' (CBS)......................8.0

3. ``CSI: Miami'' (CBS)...........................7.9

4. ``60 Minutes'' (CBS)...........................7.6

5. ``Two and a Half Men'' special (CBS)...........7.0

6. ``Two and a Half Men'' (CBS)...................6.9

7. ``Extreme Makeover: Home Edition'' (ABC).......6.8

8. ``NCIS'' (CBS).................................6.5

9. ``AFC-NFC Hall of Fame Game'' (ABC)............6.2

10. ``Law & Order: Criminal Intent'' (NBC)........6.0


Stella owners Evan and Candice Deluty (Dining column, Aug. 5) also own Torch restaurant on Beacon Hill, which remains open for business.

Compiled by Sandra Kent from staff and wire reports.

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