EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 8, 2013

Editorial: Some cheers, some jeers for recent newsmakers


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — CHEERS to Haverhill native James E. Rothman, who yesterday was named co-winner of a Nobel Prize in medicine. Rothman, born in Haverhill in 1950, is the son of Dr. Martin Rothman, a well-known local pediatrician, and Gloria Rothman.

Rothman, along with Randy W. Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley, and Dr. Thomas C. Sudhof of Stanford University were awarded the Nobel Prize for their study of the internal mechanism by which cells transport materials to the right place at the right time.

Rothman attended the Walnut Square and Whittier Middle schools before going to a private preparatory school and then to Yale University. He went on to Stanford University in 1978 and Princeton from 1988 to 1991 before joining Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Rothman had previous won the prestigious Albert Lasker Award for Basic Research. At the time, he was head of the Laboratory of Cellular Biochemistry at Memorial Sloan-Kettering.

“Jim Rothman’s research has answered some of the most fundamental questions about cell biology,” said Sloan-Kettering President Harold Varmus of the Lasker Award. “His contributions have allowed us to visualize processes inside the cell and get a very clear picture of how cells compartmentalize their functions and move those compartments in highly specific ways.”

Sloan-Kettering director Thomas J. Kelly said Rothman’s work was critical to the effort to conquer cancer.

“To understand what goes wrong in cancer cells, we first need to understand how normal cells function, and Dr. Rothman has contributed much toward that effort,” Kelly said.

Congratulations to Rothman and his colleagues for their tremendous achievement. Perhaps it is time to clear space for another face on Haverhill’s downtown mural depicting famous natives.

JEERS to government shutdown grinches. One is forced to hold a grudging admiration for the determination of the Obama administration to find new ways to maximize the pain of the federal government shutdown.

The shutdown began last week as congressional Democrats and Republicans reached an impasse over the continued funding of the government. While something like 83 percent of the federal government is still operating, the Obama administration has made certain that some very public aspects of government services have been shuttered.

First came the closing of war memorials on the National Mall. The granite monuments are normally open to the public around the clock. But the Park Service quickly erected barricades around the monuments, closing sites that had never been “closed” before. Visiting veterans, there on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to pay tribute to their fallen comrades, would not be kept out. They bravely stormed the barricades and paid their respects at the memorials.

Federal officials have also closed national parks and monuments outside of Washington as well -- even those that it is difficult to imagine could ever be closed. Word out of South Dakota is that the government is closing off highway pull-offs that allow drivers to catch a glimpse of Mount Rushmore.

It’s hard to envision a presidential administration more spiteful and mean-spirited. One can only imagine that the former presidents on Mount Rushmore are looking down on such nonsense with disgust.