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At the 20th anniversary of the Iraq War, we stand in the same position relative to the initial invasion as America stood in 1985 relative to the 1965 arrival of our first combat troops in Vietnam. This makes it a useful moment to compare the two conflicts and their effects, and to consider — provisionally, always provisionally — which was more disastrous, which intervention deserves to be remembered as the worst foreign policy decision in our history.

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Phillip Eng, an engineer with decades of experience running public transit systems, has been named the general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the Boston area’s troubled public transit agency. Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey made the announcement Monday. Eng, the former president of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Long Island Rail Road and one-time interim President of New York City Transit, is currently executive vice president at an engineering consultant firm. The MBTA oversees the nation’s oldest subway system as well as commuter rail, bus and ferry service and has come under intense scrutiny in recent years for a series of safety issues that led to a federal review.

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A massive fire has destroyed five homes and damaged three others in a beachfront neighborhood in Scituate. The fire broke out Friday night near Minot Beach. No injuries have been reported. The fire chief told nbcboston.com that the American Red Cross of Massachusetts is helping about a half dozen people who were displaced. The Scituate Police Department said Friday night that residents should expect potential power outages and issues with water pressure and discoloration. Crews are expected to remain on the scene on Saturday to extinguish any hotspots. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

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Officials say five freight train cars have derailed in Massachusetts. But no hazardous materials were being hauled, and there were no reports of injuries. Authorities say the freight cars toppled over at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday. They were carrying sealed containers of trash and recycling material. The fire department called railway operator CSX and the utility National Grid to the scene, and officials took precautions to protect a nearby waterway. The train was not moving at the time of the derailment. CSX said there were no effects on the environment, and the cause remains under investigation. CSX said the cars derailed on a line jointly owned with Norfolk Southern.

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Officials say a department-issued rifle has been stolen from a marked Massachusetts State Police cruiser. An agency spokesperson said Thursday it appears that someone forced their way into the vehicle overnight and took the rifle from its secured mount. The vehicle was locked and parked in the garage of a residential complex in Malden, just north of Boston. The spokesperson says there is no indication the weapon has been used since it was reported stolen. It is standard department procedure for troopers who are assigned patrol rifles to secure them in their cruisers while off duty.

This week, Cat Wei, Parvati Ramchandani and Mario Giannone are writing in Edith Wharton’s innermost rooms. They have come to The Mount on a raw almost-spring day as writers in residence — three of the nine who will come in March, as part of the 2023 Edith Wharton-Straw Dog Writers-in-Residence program.

How well do we know, really know, our dearest beloved — wife, husband, lover, child? What happens when trust is eroded? How do we repair the damage? Those questions go to the heart of playwright Kate Snodgrass’ edgy, sly comedy, “The Art of Burning” which is being given a cannily staged, persuasively acted production at Hartford Stage.


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