Summary of “Chasing Escobar”

Peña became consumed by Escobar when he arrived in Medellín.
That’s what made him dangerous: He was willing to do anything to evade capture, and with prominent presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán campaigning for Escobar’s extradition to the U.S., Escobar was desperate to ensure his own safety.
“We call Pablo Escobar the inventor of narcoterrorism,” Peña said.
After working with the DEA in Miami, Peña’s partner, agent Murphy, arrived in Colombia in June 1991, just three days before Escobar reached an agreement with Gaviria.
“We knew we lost, Pablo Escobar won,” Peña said.
Peña went to several funerals during his time in Colombia, and recalled one where the church was packed with eight coffins-policemen who had drowned in pursuit of Escobar.
“There were times when I just wanted to go home. I just wanted to say, ‘You know what, let him surrender, that way there’s no more bloodshed.’ But when you saw the police officers who were giving their lives, getting killed by Pablo Escobar to try to save their country-that’s what motivated you to keep going.”
Just as the chase was heating up, Peña was called away-one of his informants told the embassy that Escobar was in Haiti.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Rethinking Mass Incarceration in America”

Once they’re charged with a felony, the probability they went to prison didn’t change and the time they spent in prison didn’t change.
Pfaff: If you define the war on drugs as arresting people for drug offenses, then as it stands right now, only about 16 percent of all people in state prison are there on a drug charge.
The increase in sending people to prison for drugs explains about 20 percent of all prison growth between 1980 and 2010, so it’s not the dominant driver.
What a majority of people are in prison for are for crimes of violence, so at some point we have to start confronting how we punish people for violent crimes.
The fact is, any sort of deep cut in our prison population will require us to reduce the number of people in prison for violence.
Ford: If I’m a state legislator who’s worried about being painted as soft on crime, and I’m worried about all the traditional political attacks that go with it, what steps could I take to reduce the number of people in prison for violent offenses that would be safe and equitable and just?
Oftentimes we see a lot of the big reform groups saying, “Look, don’t worry, crime isn’t going up that much, it’s not really going up at all, we can still reduce prisons and reduce violence,” and that troubles me because that ties prison reform to low crime.
The fact is that whether crime is high or low, prison is not the most efficient way to respond to it, and I think we need to start telling a story that there are better ways-even if violent crime is rising, say, “Look, even if this is a real upward trend, prison is not what is going to rein it in. We can do this much better, much more smartly, in a much less costly way by focusing on well-established interventions that are good at disrupting violence.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “Inside the 21st-Century British Criminal Underworld”

The National Crime Agency has estimated that £90bn of criminal money is being laundered through the UK every year, 4 percent of the country’s GDP. London has become the global capital of money-laundering and the beating heart of European organised crime.
Crime is an essential part of the British economy, providing hundreds of thousands of jobs, not just for professional criminals – the NCA reckons there are 4,629 organised crime groups in operation – but for police and prison officers, lawyers and court officials, and a security business that now employs more than half a million people.
Just as British football fans have had to learn how to pronounce the names of the legions of new foreign players, detectives have had to learn to do the same for the increasing number of new criminals.
“Pretty much all of the NCA’s most significant ‘high-harm’ operations now involve people, commodities or money transferring across international borders. The days of having a drugs gang, a firearms gang or a people-trafficking gang have changed because of the concept of polycriminality. Groups satisfying criminal markets, whatever they may be, is now much more common. These are businesses and people are looking to exploit markets, so why confine yourself to one market?”.
The combination of new faces of whom the British police – and often Interpol and Europol – were unaware, along with an increasingly tech-savvy pool of criminals able to disguise their identities, made for a toxic cocktail.
“Albania is Europe’s largest producer of cannabis,” says Tony Saggers, the former head of drugs threat and intelligence at the NCA. “It is important not to stereotype, but the Kosovan war led to Albanians pretending to be Kosovan in order to get asylum in the UK. Many of the people who came just wanted a better life, but there were criminals among them who were able to set up illicit networks The UK criminal has a get-rich-quick mentality while the Albanians’ strategy was get-rich-slow, so they have driven down the price of cocaine in the UK. They knew that if they expanded, they could undercut the market.” It helped that their reputation preceded them.
“The modus operandi of criminal organisations is to target children or young adults, trafficking them across the world in a journey that can take months,” Southwell says.
The Observer suggested he was “The richest and most successful British criminal who has ever been caught”, and he was the only drug dealer to make it on to the Sunday Times rich list.

The orginal article.

Summary of “MDMA researcher is fixing the bad science that sent him to prison”

Caught between a past marred by a prison sentence for selling ecstasy and an unsteady future studying the drug that put him away, Medina-Kirchner was convinced that Hart, a researcher whose work shows that drug policies are often far more dangerous than drugs themselves, was the only person who might help an ex-felon break into scientific research.
Developed as a blood-clotting agent in 1912, MDMA gained popularity in the 1970s and ’80s as a party drug and as a psychotherapy tool used in conjunction with traditional treatments.
A sharp uptick of young users and unpublished research indicating that a similar amphetamine called MDA caused cognitive damage when injected in rats prompted the Drug Enforcement Administration to call for an emergency ban of MDMA in 1985.
Bolstered by separate research that showed cognitive and nervous system damage in animals given MDMA at levels wildly above what humans would take, the DEA classified MDMA as Schedule I – the punitively harshest category reserved for drugs like heroin that are deemed to have no medical uses and a high potential for abuse – and set a series of public hearings to determine if the classification would become permanent.
Drug laws were becoming more stringent, while at the same time, drug studies were coming under fire “Faith in the neurotoxins model just kind of eroded,” says Charles Grob, a psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences professor at the UCLA School of Medicine.
Grob has conducted MDMA research and has written about the political history of the drug.
After crack appeared in the Miami neighborhood where he grew up, Hart turned to drug research as a way to warn people about the dangers of drugs.
Several MDMA researchers interviewed for this story said that, in general, scientists now are far more deliberate about careful study design and methodologies, but comprehensively understanding the effects of the drug requires testing it in humans.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Chasing Escobar”

Peña became consumed by Escobar when he arrived in Medellín.
That’s what made him dangerous: He was willing to do anything to evade capture, and with prominent presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán campaigning for Escobar’s extradition to the U.S., Escobar was desperate to ensure his own safety.
“We call Pablo Escobar the inventor of narcoterrorism,” Peña said.
After working with the DEA in Miami, Peña’s partner, agent Murphy, arrived in Colombia in June 1991, just three days before Escobar reached an agreement with Gaviria.
“We knew we lost, Pablo Escobar won,” Peña said.
Peña went to several funerals during his time in Colombia, and recalled one where the church was packed with eight coffins-policemen who had drowned in pursuit of Escobar.
Just as the chase was heating up, Peña was called away-one of his informants told the embassy that Escobar was in Haiti.
In the third season, with Murphy’s character gone, Peña’s character continues his journey chasing after the Cali Cartel, who hopes to capitalize on Escobar’s absence to monopolize the cocaine industry.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Wonder Drug for Aging”

His awe over its power hasn’t waned-he still enjoys showing old before-and-after films of patients whose spasm disorders were quelled by Botox in some of the earliest days of the drug.
His office is like a Botox museum, housing mementos he’s gathered along the way, including a set of matryoshka dolls from a trip to Russia to introduce the drug there.
Botox is Brin’s life; he has a California vanity license plate that reads BOTOX. The drug works like this: A person’s muscles are controlled by motor nerves, which release a chemical that instructs the muscles to contract.
Full list price for Botox is roughly $600 per treatment, according to the research firm SSR LLC, and this drug sells at full price more often than most.
Potential competitors have since been encouraged by the Food and Drug Administration to develop so-called biosimilar drugs, compounds that are almost biologically identical to the reference drug.
Part of what protects the Botox empire is the sheer complexity of the drug.
Bloomberg View’s Joe Nocera labeled it “Sleazy … sneaky, unscrupulous, and just plain wrong.” For a profit-minded corporation, this is when it’s especially comforting to have a drug like Botox, whose monopoly is made unassailable by government-assisted operational secrecy.
The first step in making the drug is to combine saline solution with an almost incomprehensibly minuscule quantity of the purified toxin.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Unfinished Business of Immunotherapy”

There are even murmurings that his work in cancer immunotherapy might win him the Nobel Prize.
This transformative new class of immunotherapy agents, known as checkpoint inhibitors, is acknowledged to be the most important advance against cancer since chemotherapy.
Of all patients dying from all types of cancer in America this year, only one in 12 would be expected to benefit from any immunotherapy drug.
Sharma, a Guyanese immigrant and practicing cancer doctor, oversees the collection of tumor samples from 100 of Anderson’s 165 cancer trials that involve immunotherapy.
The overall number of immunotherapy trials probably tops 3,000, says Jeff Bluestone, an immunologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who also serves as president and CEO of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.
“This is not sustainable,” Ira Mellman, the keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, told his colleagues when he took the stage last fall.
1981: A vaccine against hepatitis B, which causes liver cancer, becomes the first cancer vaccine to reach market in the U.S. 1995: James ­Allison rids mice of tumors using a new type of treatment that unleashes the immune system: a checkpoint inhibitor.
On the basis of these results and further research, Sharma and Allison convinced Bristol-Myers to combine the drugs in a clinical trial for advanced prostate cancer.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Cocaine drug cartel leader’s interior designers take fall for crimes”

On an early Wednesday morning in San Francisco, a year after Santacruz’s death, Alexander Blarek and Frank Pellecchia were awakened by a ringing phone, indicating somebody was at their front gate.
Frank went to check on it, while Alexander continued to laze in 1,200-count Egyptian cotton sheets under windows overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.
Though legitimate businesspeople before and since have been prosecuted for financial dealings with criminals – among them a Brooklyn watch dealer sent to prison for money laundering last year for selling Swiss timepieces to Mexican drug traffickers – the scale of the criminal empire for which Alexander and Frank were implicated is unmatched.
Because glory-obsessed cops couldn’t snare their real target, said Alexander, “They went for the decorators who were queer and considered weaker. We were like collateral damage in the War on Drugs, which we know is a farce.”
On a Sunday afternoon in 1979, Alexander was bouncing along a country road outside the city of Cali in Colombia when he spotted a perfect specimen of contemporary architecture.
He was the son of an outdoorsman who tried to take him fishing as a child, only to be embarrassed when Alexander was more interested in plucking water lilies for a vase.
By age 11, Alexander was critiquing the chair purchases of his mother’s friends and decided it was his calling to “Make houses nice.” He studied architectural interior design at the University of Marquette and University of Denver but got bored with theoretical projects, left school and in 1973 became an associate at a Miami design firm.
Seeing his opportunity, Alexander offered his own services.

The orginal article.

Summary of “When Evidence Says No, but Doctors Say Yes”

In a 2013 study, a dozen doctors from around the country examined all 363 articles published in The New England Journal of Medicine over a decade-2001 through 2010-that tested a current clinical practice, from the use of antibiotics to treat people with persistent Lyme disease symptoms to the use of specialized sponges for preventing infections in patients having colorectal surgery.
Some of the contradicted practices possibly affect millions of people daily: Intensive medication to keep blood pressure very low in diabetic patients caused more side effects and was no better at preventing heart attacks or death than more mild treatments that allowed for a somewhat higher blood pressure.
In 2007, after a seminal study, the COURAGE trial, showed that stents did not prevent heart attacks or death in stable patients, a trio of doctors at the University of California, San Francisco, conducted 90-minute focus groups with cardiologists to answer that question.
Topol described “What appears to be an irresistible temptation among some invasive cardiologists” to place a stent any time they see a narrowed artery, evidence from thousands of patients in randomized trials be damned.
Neither the patients nor the doctors evaluating them knew who had received real surgeries and who was sporting a souvenir scar.
The report says there is “Moderate” evidence that Provenge effectively treats cancer, but it also highlighted the fact that more patients who got Provenge at the beginning of the seminal trial also received more and earlier chemotherapy.
At the same time, patients and even doctors themselves are sometimes unsure of just how effective common treatments are, or how to appropriately measure and express such things.
Graham Walker, an emergency physician in San Francisco, co-runs a website staffed by doctor volunteers called The NNT that helps doctors and patients understand how impactful drugs are-and often are not.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The hunt for Asia’s El Chapo”

A multinational task force is on the trail of a China-born Canadian national who, police tell Reuters, is the suspected kingpin of a vast drug network that is raking in up to $17 billion a year.
Sam Gor supplies a bigger, more dispersed drug market and collaborates with a more diverse range of local crime groups than the Latin cartels do, including Japan’s Yakuza, Australia’s biker gangs and ethnic Chinese gangs across Southeast Asia.The crime network is also less prone to uncontrolled outbreaks of internecine violence than the Latin cartels, police say.
A senior Chinese counter-narcotics agent described the database, which includes a trove of names, chemical signatures of seized drugs, phone metadata and surveillance intel, as the most impressive cache of intelligence on Asian drug trafficking groups in the region.
For regional counter-narcotics police, the revelations upended their assumption that the drugs were being trafficked by different crime groups.
METH PARADISE.During his time in Myanmar, Cai is suspected of traversing the country, testing drug samples, organizing couriers and obtaining a fishing boat to transport the illicit cargo to a bigger vessel in international waters, according to police and the Myanmar PowerPoint document.
On them, police say they found the GPS coordinates of the pick-up point in the Andaman Sea where fishing boats laden with Myanmar meth were meeting drug motherships capable of being at sea for weeks.
Masked members of the AFP and Western Australian police moved in with assault weapons and seized the drugs and the men.
The bureau said it was “Aware that Taiwanese syndicates have participated in maritime drug trafficking in Asia-Pacific region,” and was working “Collaboratively and closely with our counterparts to disrupt these syndicates and cross-border drug trafficking.”

The orginal article.