Weekly Roundup 4/23/2012

Rethinking the War on Drugs
Mark A.R. Kleiman, Jonathan P. Caulkins and Angela Hawken, The Wall Street Journal, April 22, 2012

Synopsis: Current drug policies do more damage than necessary and less good than thought, according to the co-authors of the book Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know. The three professors acknowledge the “superficial” appeal of legalizing drugs but say legalization would have “dire” consequences. Instead, they advocate “practical” steps to reduce drug use by daily regular monitoring of arrestees with histories of drug use and to reduce violent crime associate with drug trafficking by putting violent drug dealers in jail and pressuring non-violent drug dealers to give up the trade.

Takeaway: “The U.S. has reached a dead end in trying to fight drug use by treating every offender as a serious criminal,” according to the trio. The real prospects for reform depend on “policies, not slogans,” they say, but “it remains to be seen whether our political process . . . can tolerate the necessary complexity.”
For CQ Researcher coverage, see these reports by Peter Katel: “Teen Drug Use,” June 3, 2011; “Legalizing Marijuana,” June 12, 2009, updated July 21, 2010; “War on Drugs,” June 2, 2006.

--Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor


James Gallagher, BBC, April 18, 2012

Synopsis: New research on breast cancer shows that the old method of characterizing -- and treating -- cancers as being the same if they appear in the same organ has little basis in fact. Detailed gene studies of 2,000 breast-cancer patients revealed 10 different patterns of the disease that could eventually lead to different ways of treating it.

Takeaway: "We are a long way from using the new definitions in hospitals, and the immediate impact on patients will be limited. There are clear survival differences among the 10 categories. Clusters two and five seem to have a 15-year survival of around 40 percent. Clusters three and four have around 75 percent survival over the same period. This could help better inform patients....The hope is that by identifying the 10 breast cancers it will be possible for researchers to design drugs for each one, but that is still a work in progress."

For more on cancer and genetic medicine, see our reports on Genes and Health (Jan. 21, 2011), Breast Cancer (April 2, 2010) and Preventing Cancer (Jan. 16, 2009).

--Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer


Sherry Turkle, The New York Times, April 22, 2012

Synopsis: Psychologist Turkle says that while mobile communication devices superficially help people connect with one another, they ultimately distance people from each other and make them feel lonelier. And in the process, we lose the art of conversation.

Takeaway: Turkle writes: “Human relationships are rich; they’re messy and demanding. We have learned the habit of cleaning them up with technology. And the move from conversation to connection is part of this. But it’s a process in which we shortchange ourselves. Worse, it seems that over time we stop caring, we forget that there is a difference.”

For background see Marcia Clemmitt, “Cyber Socializing,” CQ Researcher, July 28, 2006.

--Thomas J. Colin, Contributing Editor