The inside story of Ranbaxy, a generic drug maker that committed criminal fraud by fabricating data to win FDA approvals:
"Thakur knew the drugs weren't good. They had high impurities, degraded easily, and would be useless at best in hot, humid conditions. They would be taken by the world's poorest patients in sub-Saharan Africa, who had almost no medical infrastructure and no recourse for complaints. The injustice made him livid.
"Ranbaxy executives didn't care, says Kathy Spreen, and made little effort to conceal it. In a conference call with a dozen company executives, one brushed aside her fears about the quality of the AIDS medicine Ranbaxy was supplying for Africa. 'Who cares?' he said, according to Spreen. 'It's just blacks dying.'"
PUBLISHED: May 15, 2013
LENGTH: 39 minutes (9759 words)
A man struggles to accept his father's criminal past:
"The more I pushed, the more Horst insisted on varnished truth. Wächter was a father. He saved Jews. He had responsibilities to others. He followed orders and an oath (to Hitler). He had to provide for the family. He was an idealist. He was honourable. He believed the system could be improved. In a court these arguments would be hopeless. Yet Horst maintained that Wächter was 'very much against the criminal system' even if hard put to offer any convincing examples."
PUBLISHED: May 3, 2013
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3770 words)
What the Libor and ISDAfix scandals reveal about manipulation of the global economy by banks:
"All of these stories collectively pointed to the same thing: These banks, which already possess enormous power just by virtue of their financial holdings – in the United States, the top six banks, many of them the same names you see on the Libor and ISDAfix panels, own assets equivalent to 60 percent of the nation's GDP – are beginning to realize the awesome possibilities for increased profit and political might that would come with colluding instead of competing. Moreover, it's increasingly clear that both the criminal justice system and the civil courts may be impotent to stop them, even when they do get caught working together to game the system."
PUBLISHED: April 26, 2013
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3927 words)
For nearly a decade, a fugitive allegedly terrorized cabin owners in the Utah mountains. The story of what drove him into the mountains, and the months leading up to his capture:
"Knapp launched his first experiment in criminal solitude in September 2000: He stole a Toyota pickup, pointed it west, and didn't stop driving until he hit Big Pine, California, on the eastern edge of the Sierras. Toothy granite peaks rim the town, a gateway to some of America's most popular backpacking. Knapp ditched the truck on a dirt road, stripped it of its tools – and two pairs of binoculars – and walked into the backcountry.
"A few days later, a local hiker reported a suspicious man carrying a rifle near the Owens River. A warden from a nearby fish hatchery went to investigate, but while he was gone, his truck and a hatchery building were broken into. Missing were his boots, $3 in change, and maps of the Eastern Sierras and Death Valley National Park. Local cops were put on alert."
PUBLISHED: April 3, 2013
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4529 words)
Hollywood screenwriter Budd Schulberg's unlikely collaboration with Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl, who was arrested and asked to provide evidence at Nuremberg against war criminals:
"In subsequent interviews he continued the story: 'I had this warrant for her in my pocket. It was like burning a hole in my pocket … Finally I took the thing out and said, ‘Miss Riefenstahl, I'm sorry, but I have to take you to Nuremberg.' And that's when she screamed, "Puppi, Puppi … he's arresting me."' The little majordomo raced into the room, with Schulberg now realizing he was her husband. 'I tried to reassure her,' Schulberg continued. 'I said, "Look, you're not being put on trial with Goering and von Ribbentrop, but we do need you as a material witness."' He took her outside, where his driver and his vehicle awaited. The trip from Kitzbühel to Nuremberg was roughly 150 miles. 'She didn't say anything on the way ... She was very ticked off—very. And I guess scared.'"
PUBLISHED: March 2, 2013
LENGTH: 27 minutes (6763 words)
An undercover officer for the Drug Enforcement Administration ends up in prison when the drug war becomes personal:
"'A lot of people disappear in Mexico,' he says. 'They are buried where no one will find them. Some are eaten by tigers and some by sharks. There are also big tanks with acid in them.' He pauses for a long time between the sentences.
"'We didn't manage to catch all the bad guys. In those cases, we gave the Mexicans their names and said, 'Do what you need to do.' The Mexicans made those people disappear.'
"Martinez sits in his car, holding the steering wheel firmly with both hands. He looks frightened by the memories of his own life. 'Come on, let's go to the cemetery,' he says."
PUBLISHED: March 1, 2013
LENGTH: 12 minutes (3247 words)
An examination of prison policies and rehabilitation programs for criminal offenders that help keep them out of prison and help them transition back into society:
"'So many pieces have to come together' to set newly released prisoners on the path to a productive, stable life, says Caroline Burke ’13, a social studies concentrator who is one of Western’s research assistants. 'If someone isn’t on the right track after the first few weeks, there’s a snowball effect.'
"The few inmates who do reintegrate without much difficulty, who are best positioned to deal with the psychological effects of the transition, have the 'big three' in place: they have a job lined up or find one quickly (e.g., through a trade union they previously worked with); they have housing (often with a relative or through a social-service program); and they have access to healthcare and treatment for substance-abuse and mental-health issues as necessary. The most effective reentry programs address these factors, and Western recommends directing more resources their way."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 15, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4439 words)
Why are violent crime rates still dropping, even during the recession? The latest evidence suggests lead—in the air, in our gasoline, in our paint—was responsible for the rise in crime in the 1960s & '70s, and the drop in the 1990s:
"And with that we have our molecule: tetraethyl lead, the gasoline additive invented by General Motors in the 1920s to prevent knocking and pinging in high-performance engines. As auto sales boomed after World War II, and drivers in powerful new cars increasingly asked service station attendants to 'fill 'er up with ethyl,' they were unwittingly creating a crime wave two decades later.
"It was an exciting conjecture, and it prompted an immediate wave of...nothing. Nevin's paper was almost completely ignored, and in one sense it's easy to see why—Nevin is an economist, not a criminologist, and his paper was published in Environmental Research, not a journal with a big readership in the criminology community. What's more, a single correlation between two curves isn't all that impressive, econometrically speaking. Sales of vinyl LPs rose in the postwar period too, and then declined in the '80s and '90s. Lots of things follow a pattern like that. So no matter how good the fit, if you only have a single correlation it might just be a coincidence. You need to do something more to establish causality."
PUBLISHED: Jan. 3, 2013
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5326 words)
A look at what led up to the passing of Amendment 64 in Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana use in the state:
"While the medical marijuana industry was evolving, activists continued to push for recreational use of marijuana. In 2005, Mason Tvert's newly founded Safer Alternatives to Recreational Enjoyment pushed — and passed — resolutions at Colorado State University and CU demanding that cannabis penalties be no worse than penalties for alcohol offenses on campus. That same year, SAFER put a measure on the Denver ballot that would decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by anyone over the age of twenty. When Denver voters approved the proposal, the Mile High City became the first major city in the country to make such a move — even though it was mostly symbolic and simply reinforced the state's 1975 decriminalization laws.
"Still, it was seen as a win for the cannabis community, and it inspired SAFER to push for a similar statewide measure in 2006 that only received 40 percent of the vote. In 2007, SAFER again focused on Denver, which this time approved making marijuana possession the city's lowest police priority.
"And soon a lot more people would be possessing marijuana — legally."
PUBLISHED: Nov. 1, 2012
LENGTH: 19 minutes (4852 words)