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June 15, 2005 Wednesday

LENGTH: 312 words
HEADLINE: Editorial;

Polls fail to ask the right question

The headline was big and bold enough. ``Poll: USA is losing patience on Iraq,'' said Monday's lead story in USA Today.

And because it was by the reputable Gallup organization and in a national newspaper, it got lots of air time, too.

The poll of 1,003 adults, taken June 6-8, found that 59 percent of those surveyed think the United States should withdraw all or some of its troops from Iraq and only 36 percent think current troop strength ought to be maintained or increased.

Now imagine for a moment someone gets you on the phone and says something like, ``So, do you think the United States should bring home all its troops from Iraq, some of its troops, maintain the current contingent or increase the number?''

Who, for heaven's sake, wouldn't want America's sons and daughters to come home? What kind of fool would say, ``Oh, sure, just leave 'em there until hell freezes over.'' ``Just keep them there as a permanent occupation force - until maybe Iraq agrees to become the 51st state. Sure, it's far away, but heck they've got oil, right?''

Anyone with a functioning brain and a heart wants to see this nation's young men and women home safe and sound. Anyone who has ever witnessed one of those homecomings at an airport and watched as strangers applauded this person in uniform knows how very deeply those feelings run.

Yes, we all want them home as soon as reasonably possible. And isn't that the key - REASONABLYpossible? That's what polls never ask. They never ask if the choice is bringing the troops home now and abandoning a newly democratic nation to terrorists and thugs, should we bring them home now? They never ask if the choice is bringing the troops home now and leaving Iraq to once again become a threat to the region and to our own safety and security, should we bring them home now?

The world is complex. Polls that try to make it otherwise are worthless.
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Copyright 2005 Boston Herald Inc.

The Boston Herald
June 15, 2005 Wednesday

LENGTH: 284 words
HEADLINE: Protesters crash Army party
BYLINE: By Marie Szaniszlo

The Blackhawk helicopter hovered overhead and, moments later, the parachuters swooped like enormous black birds from the sky as a Hummer waited below, a dare on its rear door: ``Your future has just passed you by.''

After the Blackhawk had disappeared and the officials had finished their speeches yesterday on Cambridge Common, Bill Callahan stood in his desert fatigues at the U.S. Army's 230th birthday celebration and dismissed the dangers of his 11-month tour of duty in Iraq.

``You're doing something for your country,'' said Callahan, an Army National Guard lieutenant colonel from Natick.

Here, on the very ground where George Washington took command of the newly formed Continental Army to fight the British, hundreds of people celebrated its anniversary, while hundreds of others protested what they saw as its reversal of roles.

Washington's army ``was fighting imperialism. They were fighting occupiers,'' said Cynthia Enloe of Somerville, a political science professor who carried a sign warning, ``Caution: Army recruiters have a monthly quota.''

In all, seven demonstrators were arrested. Others shouted down Undersecretary of the Army Raymond Dubois. Still others, such as Jack Tobin of Allston, soldiers once themselves, stood quietly on the sidelines.

``I was gung-ho,'' Tobin said, recalling his decision to drop out of college during the Korean War to join the Marines at 17. ``I believed there was a purpose to the war. I believed all the things they told us about fighting for freedom and democracy.''

But then how could he have known, he said, that a half-century later, as a 70-year-old veteran, he would be tossed off the common because police deemed the peace symbol he held a ``weapon''?
GRAPHIC: GIVING PEACE A CHANCE? A member of the Silver Wings parachute jump teams coasts onto Cambridge Common above a sign held by a protester as the Massachusetts Army National Guard celebrated the U.S. Army's 230th birthday. At right, antiwar protester Matt Orsborn, wearing fake blood and Iraqi garb, is arrested and led away by Cambridge police. Staff photos by Nancy Lane
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The Boston Herald
June 15, 2005 Wednesday

LENGTH: 582 words
HEADLINE: Quincy's Tobins trying to bridge brother-in-law promotion snafu
BYLINE: By Howie Carr

It may be time to make it official - just change the name of the city of Quincy to Tobintown.

I mean, the Tobin family has been calling the shots down there for a good long time, but they may right now be at the pinnacle of their power.

For those of you not familiar with City of Presidents hackerama, the patriarch of the clan is Arthur Tobin, age 75, the clerk/magistrate of the Quincy District Court and a former city councilor, mayor and state senator.

His son, Steve Tobin, has been the state rep since 1989.

And now, the Quincy Police Department is about to promote a number of cops, including three sergeants in particular who may very soon be lieutenants:

- Brian Tobin, Arthur's son.

- Kevin Tobin, Arthur's nephew.

- Donald Greenwood, Arthur's son-in-law.

The final decision will be made by the mayor, William Phelan. Would you care to guess who Mayor Phelan's father-in-law is?

That's right, Mayor Phelan is married to the former Tracey Tobin. It's a small world, isn't it? Especially if you're a Tobin in Quincy.

``They're all top-notch people,'' the mayor was saying yesterday from the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Chicago. ``They work hard and I'm proud to be associated with them. I'm glad people like them decide to enter public service.''

The state Ethics Commission, though, sometimes has concerns about public servants who are also brothers-in-law, which is what Sgt. Brian Tobin is to Mayor Phelan. The mayor has requested an opinion from the commission as to how, or whether, he can bypass a provision in the city code that says if the mayor can't promote someone, nobody can.

I've gotten several letters and phone calls about the Tobin hackerama down in Quincy, but I couldn't keep all the names straight. Finally, I asked one of the dime-droppers to fax to me a Tobin family tree, and now I think I've got it.

First, let's go to Arthur's brother, Tim. He's a retired QPD cop, and Kevin is his son. Arthur has six living children, one of whom is the state rep, and another is Mark Tobin, who ran unsuccessfully for register of probate in 2002. He has a hack courthouse job in Bristol County.

Then there's Brian, the sergeant who's the fly in the ointment right now. (Brian's twin brother, Bruce, by the way, is a state trooper.)

Next comes another of Arthur's daughters, Kelly Ann. She was a crime analyst at the QPD, but has lately been out on workers' comp. She's married to Donald Greenwood Sr., who aced the exam, and is by all accounts a fine man - he's in the Army Reserves, and at age 57, has been to Iraq twice. He has a son, Donald Jr., who has also done at least one tour in Iraq, and when he's not in the theater, would you care to guess where Donald Jr. works?

``Oh yeah, I forgot about Donald Jr.,'' the mayor said. ``He's on the Police Department. They're great people.''

Donald Jr. is not Kelly Ann's son, so technically he's not a Tobin, but close enough.

I decided to run a bluff on the mayor: Aren't there some Tobins in the School Department?

``Oh yeah,'' he said. ``My brother Jimmy's a teacher and his wife, Tracy, is a teacher. Both were hired well before I went into politics.''

Out of space. Sorry there wasn't more flowery descriptive passages, but there were just too damn many Tobins to get to. And when you call me this morning to tell me which ones I missed, please don't yell.

There's so many of them, and there's only one of me.

Howie Carr's radio show can be heard weekday afternoons on WRKO AM 680, WHYN AM 560, WGAN AM 560, WEIM AM 1280 and WXTK 95.1 FM
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The Boston Herald
June 14, 2005 Tuesday

LENGTH: 456 words

Bush, Blair raise new hopes for Africa
BYLINE: By Charles R. Stith

As laudable as are British Prime Minister Tony Blair's efforts on behalf of Africa and President Bush's eventual response, I fear something fundamental is getting lost in the discussion. More important than what Bush owes Blair for his support in the Iraq War is the issue of what the world owes Africa.

Africa has always been central to the global economy - from providing the slave labor that developed the new world and enriched the old world to providing the mineral essential to making today's computer chips. Sub-Sahara Africa remains among the world's largest net exporters of fresh food and agro-based products.

Africa's development has forever been impacted by its history: Colonialism stunted the ability of nations to grow, develop, and successfully manage independence. Militarization, aimed at ensuring foreign political hegemony, also limited access to Africa's vast resources. And Apartheid not only oppressed South African blacks but debilitated neighboring states, requiring them to spend millions defending themselves instead of investing in their own development.

Africa's importance to global commerce and western development is unquestionable. The issue is will Africa ever benefit from its contribution to the global economy as much as the world has benefited?

The $64 million question (or maybe $64 BILLIONquestion) relative to THISAfrica plan is: Is this the same old tune, or are Blair and the West really singing a new song?

The most recent list of plans to save Africa have left something to be desired. And, the list is long: the Lagos Plan (1979), the World Bank's Berg Report (1981), the Economic Commission for Africa's Priority Program for Economic Recovery (1986), followed by the African Alternative Framework to Structural Adjustment Program for Socioeconomic Recovery and Transformation (1989); the Arusha African Charter for Popular Participation and Development (1989) the World Bank's Sub-Saharan Africa report; the U.N. New Agenda for Development in Africa in the 1990's, and the Clinton administration's Africa Growth and Opportunity Initiative. In this millennium we can now add the U.N.'s Millennium Challenge Goals and President Bush's Millennium Challenge Account. Tony Blair's Commission on Africa Plan is just the latest.

If the volume of words in the plans devoted to Africa's development were dollars, Africa would be flush with more than enough cash to secure its future.

My hope, and the hope of many, is that this initiative by Blair and Bush is not another example of talking the talk, but a giant step forward in walking the walk that will insure that Africa takes its place as a member in equal standing in the world community.

The Rev. Charles Stith is a former U.S. ambassador to Tanzania.
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The Boston Herald
June 14, 2005 Tuesday

LENGTH: 325 words

Visits rise 9 percent
BYLINE: By Jennifer Heldt Powell

Let's go visit Boston, eh?

A growing number of Canadians are doing just that since fears over SARS and terrorism have subsided. A weak U.S. dollar has also helped attract bargain hunters from the north seeking a cheaper vacation.

An estimated 358,300 visitors poured into the Bay State from Canada last year, up about 9percent from the previous year, according to Tourism Massachusetts.

That's still down from the year before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but Bay State tourism officials said they're encouraged by the numbers.

``The trend is going in the right direction,'' said Patrick Moscaritolo, chief of the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Visits from Canada dipped following 9/11 as tourism in general slowed. Travel was further hampered by longer waits at the U.S.-Canadian border.

In 2002 and 2003, tourism from the north also suffered from concerns over the potentially deadly respiratory disease SARS, as well as the Iraq war's start.

Last year, Canadian tourists spent $109 million in the Bay State, Tourism Massachusetts President Bill MacDougall said.

However, average spending per visitor was down - most likely due to a change in where tourists were coming from. Travelers from Ontario, for instance, tend to spend more than those from Quebec.

Tourism Massachusetts plans to do more to woo Canadian visitors, a critical market for Bay State tourism's recovery, MacDougall said.

``We're pushing really hard to get our key regions back here,'' he said.

Canadian tourism trends mirror those of visitors from overseas.

Last year's total visitors to Greater Boston were above projections of 815,000 tourists, according to numbers to be released next week.

Although the U.S. dollar is gaining strength, tourism officials are confident that Canadian and overseas visits to the Bay State will continue to climb based on interest in the region.

``There is a pent-up demand to visit the United States and New England,'' Moscaritolo said.
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The Boston Herald
June 12, 2005 Sunday

LENGTH: 728 words
HEADLINE: Heroic and enduring, Batman is no fly-by-night fancy
BYLINE: By James Verniere

When director Tim Burton first brought Batman, DC Comics' costumed crime fighter, back to the big screen in 1989, the world was a different place.

The OTHERGeorge Bush was in the White House, the Berlin Wall was about to fall, the World Trade Center stood tall, the Evil Empire was on the ropes and Francis Fukuyama famously declared ``the end of history.''

Fukuyama, a Harvard-educated State Department official specializing in the Middle East, was famously wrong, of course.

In 2005, history is far from over and setting off suicide car bombs. We're engaged in a protracted war in Iraq and a global war on terrorism, and our children are growing up in the multicolored shadow of a terrorist-alert indicator.

George Bush II, so to speak, is in his second term in the White House. And despite an onslaught of remakes and movie sequels, box-office ticket sales have slumped alarmingly.

Coincidentally, opening Wednesday is ``Batman Begins,'' a film noir fantasia by the edgy, young director Christopher Nolan (``Memento,'' ``Insomnia'') and featuring Christian Bale in a role previously played - if not a Batsuit previously inhabited - by Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney.

Few observers expect the Dark Knight to storm the box office as he did in 1989 or to provide comfort to a nation troubled by nightmares of mass destruction. It's too much to ask.

But just as many detected thinly veiled (Or is that caped?) political barbs in ``Revenge of the Sith,'' this new ``Batman'' reflects the world circa 2005. For one, this installment represents a reboot after eight years of dormancy and a return to the hero's roots in trauma and emotional anguish. For another, the plot involves a paralyzing, Pogo-evoking, fear toxin unleashed by the villain Scarecrow on Gotham City. In fact, mastering our fear is the film's overriding theme.

The last two, indulgent Clinton-era Batman films were little more than the film equivalent of fellatio in the Oval Office. They lost sight of what motivated Batman: his devastated response as a child to the murder of his parents. This is what transformed Bruce Wayne from carefree young heir to a fortune to virtually invincible fighting machine.

Wherever you stand on the whole Blue State-Red State thing, the world is a more dangerous place today than in 1989. And a justice-seeking creature of the night, a black-winged angel of death broodingly keeping watch over us from our cities' rooftops, is arguably tailor-made for our troubled times.

He's a hero for people sick and tired of being ``wanded'' at airports and courthouses and feeling helpless against virtually invisible enemies. Another sign we will be seeing a darker, more Zeitgeist-y Batman this time is the casting of Bale, a talented, young Welsh actor whose most notable previous credit was as the chainsaw-packing protagonist of ``American Psycho.''

The comic book Batman was created by Bob Kane for ``Detective Comics'' No. 27 in 1939, at the end of the Depression and in the looming shadow of World War II, and was an instant success. He was even enlisted to fight the Nazis with such World War II-forged DC heroes as Sgt. Rock and the Blackhawks.

I don't think we'll be shipping Batman to the Middle East to wage war any time soon. But one of the new film's posters is fertile ground for anyone with an active or morbid imagination.

Perhaps I'm reading too much into it or too attached to my ``X-Files''-bred, subliminal advertising theories.

But the poster depicts Batman facing the viewer in his trademark cape and twin-peaked mask. In his arms is the film's heroine (Katie Holmes), looking as if she has just been rescued from a burning building or some other disaster, and in the background is a swarm of bats oddly recalling the swirling, choking debris in the air after the fall of the Twin Towers.

To me, the message is clear: Batman is our savior, even if he must save us retroactively. It's worth remembering that however dark this new Batman may be, like all superheroes, he has Christ-like roots (this is why those Jesus comics were such a natural).

All superheroes protect us from evil and risk and sacrifice their well-being for ours. They would never slaughter innocents to further their aims. Batman is an idea as well as a character in a suit. And in the global struggle for hearts and minds, it's our superheroes, if not our gods, against everybody else's.

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