, Newburyport, MA

September 24, 2013

A look at what others are saying

Newburyport Daily News

---- — The following are excerpts from editorials in other newspapers across New England:

Detroit may rise again

If geography alone were destiny, Detroit would be a thriving metropolis. It has a fine waterfront on the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair, proximity to two Great Lakes — Huron and Erie — a border with Canada, and is close to Chicago and other great Midwest cities.

But as we know, Detroit is an economic and physical mess, turned into one at the hand of humankind. Its population, 700,000, is less than half of what it was at its peak. The automakers that once fueled the city’s prosperity are coming back, but with a fraction of the workforce they once employed. Some 78,000 houses and buildings are abandoned.

The “good” news may be that Detroit is in bankruptcy. The courts could relieve it of punishing debt, letting the city begin restoring services. As important, bankruptcy could give business and civic leaders breathing space to put into action a plan for reinventing Motown. This is also an opportunity for Detroit to work on changing its civic culture of accepting government corruption.

But what should the new Detroit look like? We have suggestions.

First, it will be a lot smaller than the old Detroit. The city has an infrastructure built for 1.7 million people. Largely vacant neighborhoods should be returned to nature.

Second, it should strive to attract diverse businesses. The dangers of relying on one industry became painfully clear when Detroit’s automakers fell into deep decline.

Photos of the devastated sections of Detroit recall those of bombed-out European cities following World War II. The cities of Europe came back as changed entities. So can Detroit and other hard-luck towns of the industrial Midwest. They will look different, but they can rise again.

— The Providence Journal

A costly precedent

Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, convicted of leaking sensitive national-security information while serving in Iraq, says he wants to undergo hormone therapy in prison so he can begin living as a woman. Like the Massachusetts inmate formerly known as Robert Kosilek, Pvt. Manning expects the government to pay for treatments aimed at changing his gender.

The New York Times sees nothing wrong with this. It even has gone so far as calling the Leavenworth military prison’s newest inmate by his chosen name — Chelsea — and using the pronoun “she” on its editorial page.

The issue in both cases is whether gender-identity disorder, like pneumonia or a broken arm, obligates the prison system to provide appropriate treatment. A Massachusetts court ruled in favor of Kosilek, 64; the state has appealed. Army officials say Pvt. Manning, facing eight to 35 years at Leavenworth, won’t be granted the hormone treatments he’s requesting.

There’s no reason why he should. People who commit crimes — Kosilek killed his wife in 1990 — give up many rights and privileges. Allowing convicts to demand exotic treatments at taxpayer expense is wrong on the grounds that prison inmates are entitled to the bare minimum of health care. Moreover, allowing such treatments to go forward has the potential to become a costly precedent at the hands of imaginative inmates and lawyers with endless hours on their hands, and law books and courts at their disposal.

— The Republican American of Waterbury (Conn.)