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August 21, 2005 Sunday

LENGTH: 318 words
HEADLINE: Editorial;

Iran's threat merits hard line

Iran's cocky new hard-line government has raised the stakes in the dispute over its nuclear program with a threat to close the Strait of Hormuz. The Bush administration must make clear that such an action would mean a war to keep open the oil lifeline of the world.

During the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, the U.S. Navy patrolled the Arabian Gulf (to which the strait leads) to keep the oil flowing and even sank a few small Iranian vessels. A warning to Iran - which could be delivered quietly at first - might well combine a reminder of those days and a caution that the next time hostilities would not be confined to small boats at sea but would include all of Iran's air force and naval assets.

Through the straits pass tankers from Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq, carrying about one barrel in every four produced on the planet. If Iran means to include its own shipments in the threat, that would make the flow about 30 percent of the world total. Interrupting this for any length of time would amount to ``actual strangulation'' of the world economy, as Henry Kissinger noted more than 30 years ago.

Perhaps emboldened by high oil prices, Mohammad Saeedi, spokesman for Iran's Center for Nuclear Energy, was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying, ``We have told the Europeans very clearly that if any country wants to deal with Iran in an illogical and arrogant way we will block the Strait of Hormuz.''

Iran has been negotiating with Britain, France and Germany, who with the United States want Iran to give up plans to manufacture nuclear fuel to remove all possibility that the country, which has lied for almost 20 years about its nuclear activities, could some day build a bomb.

Britain, France and Germany should make clear that the oil threat will not deter them in the least from seeking sanctions in the United Nations Security Council if need be.
LOAD-DATE: August 21, 2005

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The Boston Herald
August 20, 2005 Saturday

LENGTH: 357 words
HEADLINE: Editorial;

A constitution for Iraq

Call us hopeless optimists, but we think there's still a good chance Iraq's politicians will produce a draft constitution to submit to the voters by Monday's deadline.

Even if they fail, it's not the end of the world. Another week is probably available before the scheduled October vote on approval would have to be postponed. A breakdown would mean new elections will be held and the resulting National Assembly will try again.

But there are at least two reasons for optimism: First, nobody walked away from the table when the first deadline passed last Monday, and second, the Sunni participants are most probably not dreamers. They can surely see the consequences of the worst-case scenario, a three-way split of the country among Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds and the departure of American troops from all three areas. There is reason to believe the Sunnis will accept at the last minute the best offers they can get.

The United States is working as hard as it can to avoid a split along religious and ethnic lines. That would surely lead to yet another round of cleansing in a nation that has already seen far too much of that under Saddam. An independent Kurdistan in what is northern Iraq would be seen by Turkey, a NATO ally, as a magnet for its own Kurdish population and, therefore, a threat to Turkey's territorial integrity. A Shiite state in southern Iraq would be far more vulnerable to malign Iranian influence than the area is now, even if the Iraqi Shiites wanted to stay independent.

But those two states would control substantial oil production and revenue. An independent Sunni state would have no such revenues to speak of, and would be hard-pressed to defend itself from its neighbors, or from a new Taliban-type regime dominated by the underground jihadists who plague the area now.

The division of oil revenue has been a major stumbling block to a draft constitution, though not the only one by any means. An oil agreement allotting at least some of the revenue benefits to Sunni areas could open the way to others on the role of Islam, women's rights and much else. If we had to bet, we'd bet that the Iraqis will come up with one.
LOAD-DATE: August 20, 2005

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The Boston Herald
August 19, 2005 Friday

LENGTH: 335 words

Decorated Marine Daniel Cotnoir should be in a doctor's care, said the mother of a teen injured by a bullet Cotnoir allegedly shot into a crowd of youths early Saturday in Lawrence.

But Naida Cumba of Lowell wouldn't say whether she thinks Cotnoir, who was recently named Marine Corps Times' 2005 Marine of the Year, should be able to skip jail or any other sort of punishment entirely.

``I believe that he needs treatment right now, but I'm not going to say anything about whether he needs to go to jail or not,'' said Cumba, whose daughter, Lisette, 15, was hit by a bullet fragment as she stood in the parking lot of the Longhorn Gas Station on Broadway.

Cumba, 39, added: ``I don't think he would have shot at people if he got help before he came back from Iraq.''

Cotnoir, who served in a mortuary unit collecting slain Marines' remains, sought counseling after he returned from Iraq in November.

Yesterday, a Fort Devens-based unit was preparing to deploy to Iraq to help troops in the field deal with the stress of combat.

``(Post-traumatic stress disorder) is one of the largest threats to our armed forces today and the 883rd Combat Stress Control Company is well trained to help our soldiers deal with the psychological effects of the battlefield,'' said U.S. Rep. Martin Meehan during a farewell ceremony for the 83-member unit.

The 883rd, comprised of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses and other health-related reservists, will first undergo a month's training at Fort Dix, N.J. In a previous deployment to Iraq, six members of the unit counseled soldiers ambushed in the convoy that included Pvt. Jessica Lynch.

Sgt. Philip Burke, a middle school counselor with a master's degree in social work, said one of the troop's main responsibilities is counseling soldiers who have just experienced ``critical events.''

``We will do debriefings with the soldiers that are similar to what police or other emergency services receive here after a homicide or some sort of crisis event,'' Burke said.
GRAPHIC: POIGNANT: Spc. Franny Vitiello is embraced by his mom, Linda McGahan, and daughter, Jillian, at yesterday's deployment ceremony. STAFF PHOTO BY TED FITZGERALD
LOAD-DATE: August 19, 2005

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The Boston Herald
August 19, 2005 Friday

LENGTH: 728 words

No shame in nursing

I was stunned to read Joe Fitzgerald's column about public breastfeeding at sporting events (``Another view of public breast-feeding: It's just plain wrong,'' Aug. 10).

Fitzgerald is upset because breasts have no place at football games unless, of course, they're fake and attached to a cheerleader who's shaking them for the fans.

The only thing worse than the column are the knucklehead poll respondents who suggest that mothers nurse in the restrooms at Fenway. If we're going to make mothers nurse there, then the city should gather supplies for a cholera outbreak. I'd rather have my child nursed in a TB ward.

Babies have to eat. If a 300-pound shirtless guy at Gillette can eat a pound of nachos and wash them down with a half-gallon of beer without shame, then a mother ought to be able to breast-feed her baby without any.

- Tim McIntire, Medford

Editorial distorts law

The editorial ``Keep and improve Voting Rights Act,'' (Aug. 14) distorted the Voting Rights Act by claiming that it requires states to draw majority-minority legislative districts whenever possible. In fact, the act requires such districts only as a remedy for proven discrimination.

The very provision you criticized allowed Boston voters to expose and correct the gerrymandering after the 2000 Census, when legislators tried to pack black and Latino voters into 90 percent minority districts in order to minimize minority voting strength.

The editorial also claims that the preclearance provisions of the law, which apply in the parts of the country with the worst history of discrimination, are no longer needed. Tell that to the black citizens of Kilmichael, Miss., where the all-white town council tried to cancel municipal elections in 2001 when it looked like blacks might gain a majority on the council. The Justice Department kept the polls open by using its authority under Section 5, one of the provisions up for renewal in 2007.

Finally, Latinos and Asian-Americans in Boston have repeatedly complained that Boston polling officials have coerced or ignored the ballot choices of voters with limited English. The Justice Department's recent lawsuit is a response to such complaints.

- Brenda Wright, Boston, Managing Attorney, National Voting Rights Institute

Group clarifies mission

As a member of QueerToday and participant in the demonstration, I am pleased to see media coverage (``Anti-gay conference draws fire,'' Aug. 16). However, the Herald's interpretation of the event, and QueerToday, is inaccurate.

QueerToday is an organization founded to advocate for the equality of all LGBT people, specifically queer youth, an often overlooked segment. Instead of speaking with our organization, the Herald quoted a director of the Freedom to Marry Coalition, who has nothing to do with our group and was not even at our demonstration. Nor were there any Herald reporters present.

Focus on the Family's ``Love Won Out'' is a direct attack on queer youth, designed to suppress their voices and rights.

- Andrea Garvey, Boston

Bush breaks commitment

One might think Cindy Sheehan is acting unreasonably, but she should get her meeting (``Vigils pick up steam as war support falters,'' Aug. 18). The president claimed that consideration for our fallen soldiers is one reason we should stay in Iraq and that the soldiers and their families should be valued. Sheehan says staying in Iraq would tarnish her son's memory. She wants to use her right to be highly valued, but the president does not want to accept that commitment.

- Mark Gorman, Malden

Marine defended

What is a 15-year-old girl doing out at 2:30 a.m? Where were her parents? This is their responsibility more than the Marine's (``Neighbors say, `We've had enough,''' Aug. 16).

- Bob Shurdut, West Newton

Just learn English

Why do Hispanics have rights not afforded to other immigrants (``Lack of English a lesson not yet learned,'' Aug. 17)? If they came here legally and adopted the United State as their country, they must learn the language. After a recent minor traffic accident, I asked the other driver, who did not speak English, for his license. He gave me the middle finger and sped off. I took the license plate and found it not registered or insured, but the driver had obtained a valid inspection sticker. How? Illegally?

I'm a foreigner who earned my citizenship and learned English. I'm proud of it.

- Claudia Perault, Wilmington
LOAD-DATE: August 19, 2005

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The Boston Herald
August 19, 2005 Friday

LENGTH: 611 words

Discharged vets also under the gun

The shotgun blast fired by ``Marine of the Year'' Daniel Cotnoir into a crowd of late-night partiers in Lawrence marks a far more profound warning shot for American government and society.

Bad enough that two young people were wounded, one in the neck. They, or others, could have been killed. And they now may share their own version of post-traumatic stress disorder - the anguishing aftermath of violence that Cotnoir's lawyer has said he suffered from his experiences as a combat mortician in Iraq.

``The Iraq war has come to Lawrence,'' a friend of Cotnoir's told the Herald. But it just as easily could come to Boston or Salem or Weymouth - anywhere our servicemen and women have returned home after their horrific experiences in a war that seems to have no end.

As U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan (D-Lowell), who is doggedly seeking more resources to help such veterans, told me, ``This is going to get much worse as more of our troops come home. The impossibility of telling Iraq friend from Iraq foe, the knowledge that every road you travel could have an explosive device; all this is enough to make a person haywire.''

Cotnoir will undergo mental evaluation at Bridgewater State Hospital to determine if he is fit for trial. But what of other vets who might have similar flashpoints?

Meehan has been raising just such questions. And he is justly infuriated that few in official Washington are listening.

``Eight-six percent of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have been exposed to combat and one in five has suffered from major depression or post-traumatic stress syndrome,'' he said. ``It's morally reprehensible to send our brave young men and women into Iraq and then not try to make them whole - mentally as well as physically - when they come home.''

Meehan has tried for two years to get a major bill for increased screening and treatment of such wounds - just as real as those that tear the flesh - through Congress. He has scored a partial success: winning funding for a public awareness campaign aimed at destigmatizing mental health treatment.

``It's a first step,'' Meehan said. ``We need this kind of outreach to take the stigma off treatment. Our military is trained to be tough.''

But to some, tough means sucking up your emotions. Seeing a counselor would, therefore, be weakness.

``Senior officers must be encouraged to talk openly about their own (stress) experiences so that our troops can feel comfortable about seeking treatment without fear of repercussion.''

Massachusetts officials also are wise to begin exploring mandatory mental health screening for National Guardsmen returning from Iraq. And Meehan wants a national system of thorough mental and physical screening before troops are sent home - plus much better treatment for their problems.

``It's unconscionable,'' he said, that the armed services merely administer a questionnaire about post-traumatic stress disorder, not a real exam.

``Many of them just want to get home. They fill out the questionaires in a rush.''

Meehan's bill calls for exhaustive exams by experts on stress syndrome. And - appalled by federal oversight findings that Veterans Administration facilities ``have steadily eroded'' - he estimates ``we need a doubling of the $2.5 billion to $3 billion being spent now for all VA mental health services.''

He has allies. The American Psychological Association in February urged Washington to accelerate identification and treatment of stress disorders both during the deployment overseas and for returning military - disorders that ``often emerge years after the deployment ends.''

Years. You can almost hear those clocks ticking.

Wayne Woodlief writes weekly for the Boston Herald.
LOAD-DATE: August 19, 2005

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The Boston Herald
August 18, 2005 Thursday

LENGTH: 446 words
HEADLINE: `Murphys' always faithful to marine;

Fallen hero was fan of Hub band

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