Thursday, December 13, 2012

Prohibition Continuing

There are lots of stories like this one about the Sinaloa cartel using Chicago as a major distribution hub for heroin and other drugs--and it could have been written anytime in the last few years, or in the early 1980s for that matter, though it would have been about Columbia rather than Mexico, and Miami rather than Chicago.  Change a few names, but the drug wars story remains the same.

A couple of course members brought up Portugal's own post-war-on-drugs policies. If you subscribe to the New Yorker, you can read a good piece from October 2011. A free introduction that summarizes current policy is here. Also last year, Forbes had a very short summary of the positive results.  A paper from the UC Berkeley economics department finds a positive correlation between decriminalization in Portugal and both homicide and drug mortality rates relative to other European Union countries." One small sign of a growing left-right consensus against the war on drugs is a  study of the effects of Portugal's decriminalization policy for the Cato Institute--a right-wing think tank--by left-wing civil liberties blogger Glenn Greenwald.  One of the stronger criticisms of the studies of decriminalization, including of Greenwald's, can be found on Barack Obama's White House website.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

War Comes Home

One of our course themes--and Cause 1 of the Noir crime genre and accompanying social changes--appears literally in the title of this article, "When War Comes Home."  In it, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof tells the story of a horrific random murder committed by a returned vet.  Here an apparent case of PTSD may have been caused by a physical brain injury suffered by Staff Sgt Dwight L. Smith, pictured here, and that went untreated.  It's a story worth reading in part for confirmation of some of our discussions and also for a sense of the ongoing currency of the problem.