Tag Archives: News

The “Turing” of Tables

Back in September of 2015, the pharmaceutical industry was in complete uproar over the 5,000% price increase of a life saving drug. And just a month ago, the infamous “pharma bro,” Martin Shkreli, who was responsible for this price hike, was arrested. Ironically, his arrest was not on the basis of the unfair price increase; rather, Shkreli was arrested on fraud charges on his previous companies.

Taking a step back, Martin Shkreli, dubbed the “morally bankrupt sociopath,” “a scumbag,” “a garbage monster,” and “everything that is wrong with capitalism,” once was a rap music-loving and hedge fund manager; with one move overnight, he became the ridicule and criticism of people across the Internet and country.

Under Turing Pharmaceuticals, one of the many companies he founded, Shkreli acquired the rights to the drug, Daraprim. Previously only costing $13.50 a dose, this drug is a treatment for the relatively rare parasitic infection toxoplasmosis, and a drug that patients of weakened immune systems, such as AIDS, have come to depend on. What came to be the most controversial move in pharmaceutical history, Shkreli raised the price of this drug to $750 a dose, a 5,000% increase from its original price. Although such actions of raising drug prices for profit are commonplace in the pharmaceutical industry, seldom has any individual company dared to do so so publicly and unapologetically.

Following the public’s response, he later conceded that his only mistake, unapologetically, was not raising the price more. For a person to make a tremendous profit off a critical and devastating life situation evoked backlash from people, both morally and economically. And just overnight, Shkreli was propelled into the criticism and disdain of the public (although not as much as Trump, who knows?) and became the symbol of greed in the industry.

However, despite all this controversy, Martin Shkreli was not arrested on charges of this scandal that had made headlines. He was instead arrested for using money from a biopharmaceutical company, Retrophin, which he started as a hedge fund manager, as his own personal source of funds to pay off investors who lost money at his previous hedge fund. Shkreli’s previous business expenditures were not all that clean, and he had experienced many bankruptcies and failures. With every failure, debt accumulated and his liabilities to the investors of his hedge funds grew significantly.

And his way of paying off this debt? Even more startups.

Shkreli began a vicious cycle of creating new startups to pay off previous debt, but then having that startup fail and add to his existing debt. Using his startups to pay his private debts, his practices were soon found out and he was consequently arrested.

In the end, Shkreli was not caught legally for the crimes we know him best for, but for something we probably would never have known about had we not paid so much attention to his conducts. Martin Shkreli’s decision to drastically raise the price of the drug garnered him lots of attention, and because his action was not legally wrong, there was no way the public could throw him in jail. It’s ironic how Shkreli’s plans for profit only led him to his downfall. It was revealed that previous companies had flagged Shkreli on fraudulent charges, but had no results and conclusive findings. Yet after people paid more attention to him, were prosecutors able to find these fraudulent practices. We can only say, how the tables have turned.

 

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El Chapo’s Infamous Prison Break

News of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s escape has exploded across North America. The notorious drug lord is credited as one of the most dangerous men of our time. Leader of Sinaloa Cartel, Guzman is considered the “most powerful drug trafficker in the world” by the United States Department of Treasury in 2014. He has also been listed as one of the most powerful men in the world and one of the richest men in Mexico with a net worth of $1 billion in 2011. El Chapo’s influence is so wide spread that in 2013, the Chicago Crime Commission named him “Public Enemy Number One”, even though there was no evidence of El Chapo in Chicago. The last person to have created such an extensive criminal record and criminal notoriety was Al Capone from the 1930s. Hunted by law enforcement agencies across the world, such as the Mexican PGR, US DEA, Interpol, and various other agencies, El Chapo was arrested in 2014 for the second time. His first arrest was in 1993 and he was placed in a maximum-security prison. Even during his time in prison, Guzman’s drug empire continued to operate successfully. While in jail, his associates brought him suitcases full of cash to bribe prison workers and to allow El Chapo to maintain an opulent lifestyle. However, on January 19, 2001, with the aide of bribed guards, El Chapo made his escape. A  guard opened his electronically operated cell door and Guzman hid in a laundry cart, which a maintenance worker rolled out of the prison. Once outside, Guzman was transported in the trunk of a car to a gas station, from where Guzman made his escape on foot. This escape plan seems to have come right out of an action movie and it is even more surprising that El Chapo was able to execute it successfully. This just goes to show the extent of one man’s power and influence. El Chapo was on the run for several years but was caught again recently in 2014, but he didn’t stay there very long.

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Last week on July 11th, 2015, El Chapo escaped once again from a maximum-security prison. His escape and more importantly, how he escaped shocked the world. Guzman escaped through a tunnel dug in his cell’s shower. What’s more surprising is that the hole was placed such that the camera could not see him climbing down into the tunnel. The next part of his escape route, the tunnel, was even more incredible. The tunnel lead from the prison facility to a house construction nearly a mile away. The entire tunnel was dug through with proper equipment, a ventilation system, and installed lighting. In addition, oxygen tanks were found in the tunnel along with a motorcycle to take El Chapo across the tunnel quickly. The extensiveness of the tunnel and the coordination needed to make it possible have led many to call this tunnel a “feat of engineering”. If anything, this demonstrates the vast resources at Guzman’s disposal. Now several federal entities have begun the manhunt for El Chapo. Here’s the coverage of El Chapo’s escape route, covered by CNN. Sources:

“Joaquín Guzmán.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 17 July 2015. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joaqu%C3%ADn_Guzm%C3%A1n&gt;.
“Seven Are Charged in ‘El Chapo’ Escape – CNN.com.” CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 17 July 2015. <http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/17/americas/mexico-el-chapo-escape/&gt;.

Women Stand Up For What’s Right

As terrorists attacks in the Middle East have increased drastically due to the Taliban striving to take control. Many have stood up against the Taliban and its threats, such as our military, who, with determination, was able to kill the leader of Al Qaeda, and Malala Yousafzai, who stood up against the Taliban in order to advocate for girls’ education. These actions have now inspired many Muslim women to join the military in fighting against the terrorists attacks.

In the United States, the fact that women fight in the army is not a very big deal. There are many female air force pilots and sergeants that serve the United States and that reality is considered nothing out of the ordinary. However, in a country like Pakistan, especially in the north-west, where women are not likely to be found anywhere outside the household, female commandos are a very big deal. This is a huge conflict in the tradition of the Pakistanis, but trainee Gul Nisa states otherwise. She believes that “it is an obligation of every Muslim to protect other Muslims,” that when “they talk about ‘protecting’ they aren’t messing around” (1). Nisa, along with thirty-four other women, have volunteered to protect their country and do not mind the training that they have to undergo everyday.

From five in the morning to eleven at night, they are continuously training with weapons and learning judo. They have agreed to the intense work due to the hundreds of people that have died in their town of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and they are determined to fight for the Muslims around them. This recruitment is not only beneficial to the trainees; it is beneficial for the military in general. When it comes to searching a house, men tend to be more hostile, even if they do not intend to act that way. Women, on the other hand, can take a more gentle approach, therefore no scaring anyone that is in the household.

Despite all of the benefits this recruitment provides, there are critics that oppose the treatment the women are receiving. One of the male commandos stated that the men are not treated “like guests” (1). They are told to shoot and they do so without any form of appreciation shown. The women, on the other hand, are treated well for the same tasks, he further elaborates, which he claims to be unfair. Mehreen, a female commando trainee, refuted this statement by expressing that with these training sessions, she no longer differentiates the abilities of a man and a woman and all it takes is bravery and courage to fight for the country.

Bibliography:

“Lady Killers: Meet the Women Fighting the Taliban in Pakistan.” NBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2015.

“Who Are the Taliban? – BBC News.” BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2015.

Baltimore Riots Against Racial Inequality

Police officers are considered the law enforcement of the country. Most of the time, they do the right thing: arrest the people that commit crimes and patrol our streets to keep us safe. However, in this case, the citizens  of Baltimore, Maryland did not believe that the police did the right thing.

On April 12th, Freddie C. Gray Jr. was arrested for carrying a switchblade, when he was truthfully carrying a spring-assisted pocket knife, legal in the state of Maryland. While being transported from where he was arrested to the police station, he went into a coma and was transported to a trauma center. A week later, he died in police custody due to injuries on his spinal cord. Authorities later arrested the police officers with charges ranging from manslaughter to illegal arrest.

After his arrest, many civilians in Baltimore started a violent riot, resulting in multiple arrests and injuries to the police officers. After Gray’s funeral on April 27th, “civil unrest intensified” and there were many burglaries committed, as well burning amd vandalizing of some stores. Due to the intense riots and chaos, Baltimore issued a curfew for all residents in Maryland from 10pm to 5am for five nights.

On May 3rd, that curfew was lifted. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake stated that “[her] goal has always been to not have the curfew in place a single day longer than was necessary” (1). In five nights, the violence had calmed down, but there are still marches going on about the police brutality in Baltimore. Reverend Jamal Bryant stated that he wanted the city to shut down in order to prevent the city from “going forward with pain” (1). Gatherings are still happening all over Baltimore, speaking out against the corrupt police force and racial inequality. The mayor is determined to unify Boston slowly by gradually reducing the number of patrolling officers at each of the gatherings and by reopening the stores and malls that were previously vandalized by the rioters.

Bibliography:

“Baltimore Rallies at City Hall After Mayor Lifts Curfew.” NBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 May 2015.

“Death of Freddie Gray.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 04 May 2015.

The Sharks are Back – More Dangerous Than Ever

Shark attacks are fatal. Everyone knows this. However, in the past four years, these attacks have increased dramatically. In La Reunion, a French Indian Ocean island, a thirteen-year-old boy, Elio Canestri, was killed by a shark while surfing.

When people heard this news, at once they thought that he was not careful enough in the ocean waters. However, this is untrue. Whenever Elio went out to surf, he always left a note for his parents stating that he would only surf if there was security. The Canestri family knew how dangerous the waters were and his father said that “[he] was someone who always listened to his parents. He analyzed danger intelligently, he was a competitor” (1). He, along with six other surfers, were killed by sharks. A lack of security was not the issue.

Since this predator is now increasing its presence in our lives, people have started to wonder why they are attacking humans “unprovoked” (2). They are not developing an appetite for humans, if that is what you are wondering. Shark researcher George Burgess concluded that the increase in shark attacks was related to the increase in human population. If the number of shark attacks had increased in a certain area significantly, then it is very possible that the human population in that area had increased significantly as well. It is also true that water sports such as jet skiing and surfing have become more popular as well. This is causing more humans to enter the “shark turf,” causing sharks to attack humans more frequently (2).

Unfortunately, Burgess states, the number of shark attacks will not decrease any time soon. In the next fifteen years, “attacks will become more common,” so it is crucial that humans should not enter the ocean waters at dusk, dawn, in the nighttime, or where someone is fishing (2).

Bibliography:

Austin, Henry, and Cassandra Vinograd. “Shark Attack: Teen Surfing Champion Elio Canestri Left Mom Note.” NBC News. NBC News, 14 Apr. 2015. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.

Dier, Arden. “Why the World Will See More Shark Attacks.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 14 Apr. 2015. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.

UCLA Outbreak of the “Superbug”

“Superbugs.” Have you ever heard of them? Most think of the aliens from a TV show that are called “superbugs,” but no they are not aliens. In fact, they are bacteria, one of the most deadly types of bacteria.

According to the CDC, a specific family of “superbugs” named Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, also known are CRE, are very hard to treat because of their high resistance to antibiotics. They also have a high mortality rate and due to this, there are very limit therapeutic treatment options. The long-term effects are still unknown to health officials. The people that are most vulnerable to this bacteria are those that use ventilators, urinary catheters, intravenous catheters, and those that are taking certain antibiotics for long periods of time are most susceptible to CRE. The death rates for this are astounding: 50% of infected people die from this disease.

The most recent outbreak was in California at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, and it all happened because of the contaminated hard-to-clean endoscopes used in nearly two hundred procedures in the last four months. 179 patients have been affected by the contaminated endoscopes.

An 18-year old student was recently hospitalized and his lawyer is sure to sue the makers of the instruments, Olympus Corp. of the Americas, and are still unsure whether or not to press charges on UCLA. Due to this patient and several others waiting to be treated by doctors, the US Food and Drug Administration have issued a warning about the type of endoscope linked to the UCLA outbreak.

Thankfully, this outbreak is not a danger to the public health, as told by Dr. Benjamin Schwartz, deputy chief of the acute communicable disease control program at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Bibliography:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 03 June 2014. Web. 21 Feb. 2015.

Helsel, Phil. “UCLA Superbug Outbreak Called No Threat to Public.” NBC News. NBC News, 19 Feb. 2015. Web. 19 Feb. 2015.

Briggs, Bill. “UCLA ‘Superbug’ Patient to Sue Maker of Suspect Endocopes: Lawyer.” NBC News. NBC News, 20 Feb. 2015. Web. 21 Feb. 2015.

Measles – It’s Back

Measles. A disease thought to have been virtually eliminated with the use of vaccines has made its appearance again in late 2014 and early 2015. Now there are two things that we are waiting for: the Superbowl and the news regarding the measles cases.

How did this even happen? There was an outbreak in Disneyland, California in mid-December of 2014, “probably [. . .] from overseas, carried either by a foreign tourist or by an American coming back with the virus,” stated a top federal health official (3). Many are concluding that it came from the Philippines, since they also witnessed an outbreak of their own. Studies have also stated that this malady’s sudden appearance is similar to those in Indonesia, Qatar, Azerbaijan and Dubai. France had encountered several outbreaks as well and Americans are in fear that measles will take the country by storm. “France went from about 40 cases a year to over 10,000 cases. It is only January and we have already had over 84 cases,” stated Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (3).

Many have been infected all around the United States, mainly in the West Coast and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “As of February 1st, 2015, 84 people from 14 states were reported to have measles in 2015” (2) 64% of those with measles are related to the Disneyland outbreak. There also have been around 700 cases of measles from 27 states in 2014, a record number  to the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Measles cases and outbreaks from January 1-November 29, 2014. 610 cases reported in 24 states: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Washington. 20outbreaks representing 89% of reported cases this year. Annual reported cases have ranged from a low of 37 in 2004 to a high of 220 in 2011

Why now? This is not the 1950s. To answer that question, Dr. Schuchat said that “this is not a problem of the measles vaccine not working. It is a problem of the measles vaccine not being used” (3) After the virus was “eliminated” in the 2000s, people now take the vaccine lightly. Schuchat warns that “measles can be a very serious disease and people need to be vaccinated” (3).

However, being vaccinated does not mean you are immune to the infectious virus. Three-year old Uriah Krueger was infected with measles on New Years’ Eve but did not know he was infected until a week later. His mother found him in bed with rashes and his grandmother told her that “he had been saying ‘Ow, Ow, Ow’ all night” (1). He was taken to the hospital and into an isolation unit. Anyone who entered the unit had to have a gown, gloves, and a mask on prior to entering. With all of these precautions, one would think that Uriah was lonely in his time at the hospital, but he was far from being alone. People continuously came in, examining Uriah, since he was the first of the many that was affected with measles in decades. Doctors that were born after 1950 did not get chance to treat anyone with measles for the most part, so this was definitely a sight to see for them. Luckily, he was able to recover and lead a normal fun life.

Image: measles

This is not a happy ending, yet. We all have to ensure that we are protected from this virus so that it does not have a chance to infect everyone in the country. Pediatricians are already making it mandatory to take the vaccine again, regardless of whether or not the child has taken it in the past. With these precautions, we can once again defeated the most infectious virus in the world and put it to rest for as long as we can.

Bibliography:

Fox, Maggie. “‘Ow, Ow, Ow’: Child’s Bout With Measles Makes Parents Glad for Vaccine.” NBC News. NBC News, 29 Jan. 2015. Web. 1 Feb. 2015.

“Measles Cases and Outbreaks.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 Jan. 2015. Web. 1 Feb. 2015.

Fox, Maggie. “Disney Measles Outbreak Came From Overseas, CDC Says.”NBC News. NBC News, 1 Feb. 2015. Web. 1 Feb. 2015.

Standing Up For What is Right – Right In Your Living Room

Protests do not have to be marches or speeches made in public. Three-year-old Zuri Chin makes her protests via YouTube.

Her mother Staceyann Chin actively participates in “rallies and marches” (1) that speak out about everything from “women’s rights to police brutality” (1). She takes her child whenever she can to these protests, hoping to teach her to use her voice to speak out against what she believes is wrong. One day, they were about to go to Union Square for a march, but Chin was unable to find a babysitter to take care of her child on a rainy day. Zuri told her mother that she wanted to protest with her, no matter what it took do it.

Staceyann and Zuri Chin at a protest. Zuri, 3, has been attending activist rallies with her mom since she was born.

Surprised by her daughter’s enthusiasm, Chin started making YouTube videos about protests, right from their living room. “We decided that if we couldn’t march in the streets, we were going to have our own protest in our home. We wanted to become a part of the protest and, since our bodies couldn’t be there in the moment, we wanted to at least be present in the conversation,” says Chin.

Their latest video, “Living Room Protest III”, featured Zuri’s voice. By going to various marches and rallies, she knows how to protest on her own. She speaks out by telling the internet that she does not like it when people call her “cute” or “beautiful (1). “I just want to be called Zuri,” she states.

Zuri Chin makes a poster for one of her living room protests.

Chin, before becoming a mother, thought that she knew everything about everything. After having Zuri, she realized that she actually did not. Her daughter asks her challenging questions everyday about topics that Chin had never pondered much about, such as “inequality [and] violence” (2). She believes that no matter what she or her daughter are standing up for, it is important to be a “part of the conversation” (2). She is proud that her daughter has her own voice and can speak about what she believes in, right from their living room.

Their latest video had over 53,000 views. Chin states that their videos had a great response, but their protests will not be uploaded on a schedule. “It’s all about her desire to do them. I’m really on Zuri’s timeline,” Chin says.

Bibliography:

Pelletiere, Nicole. “Watch This 3-Year-Old Tell Strangers to Respect Her Space.” ABC News. ABC News Network, n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2015.

Peters, Terri. “This Might Be the Most Adorable Protest Ever.” TODAY. TODAY News, 16 Jan. 2015. Web. 18 Jan. 2015.

Je Suis Charlie

The recent attack on the editorial staff of the French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, resulted in the death of around a dozen people. The innocent lives taken at the hands of the Al-Qaeda associated terrorists were ordinary workers who were simply sharing their opinions with the rest of France through newspaper publications. They had the full right to publish their opinions, just like any other person in a democratic country that practices the freedom of speech and press. In America, the First Amendment is an explicit statement of such rights. Much like an American citizen, a French citizen is entitled to voice their beliefs.

Yet, the tragedy of January 7, 2015 uncovered a startling truth: that people can indeed be victimized for their opinions – maybe not by their own government, but by outside forces such as terrorist organizations that view satire as a severe censure of their faith. That was exactly the case with the Charlie Hebdo attack. Known for its harsh mockery that sometimes crossed the line from aggressive to full blown, Charlie Hebdo was a bold newspaper that approached the topic of Islam in a rather negative way.

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Of course, the underlying issue is whether Charlie Hebdo did go too far in its lampoon of Islam. Many American sources state that the newspaper had been unforgiving to the point where its contents appeared to be more like raciest commentary than anything else. In one particular publication, the cover page made the Islamic month of fasting, Ramadan, the center of its parody. Indeed, it could be argued that Charlie Hebdo was taking satire to an extreme level.

And even though it is wrong to veil xenophobic opinions with the label of free speech, it is much worse to target people for their beliefs. In any situation and place, an individual should be allowed to harbor their own feelings toward a subject. If you dislike a person, that’s fine. If you tell others that you dislike that person, that’s fine as well. It’s not like upon hearing your thoughts, everybody else will start hating that person, too. In general, when people share their beliefs, they do it for self-expression. They’re not necessarily looking to embed the same ideal in everybody’s mind; and even if they are, they know that such a feat is not exactly possible. Free speech only allows one to speak without constraint – it doesn’t mean that everybody will listen.

People take part in a vigil to pay tribute to the victims of a shooting, by gunmen at the offices of weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, in the Manhattan borough of New York

Given that, the fact that some Charlie Hebdo staff members were killed so brutally is saddening and disheartening. The “Je suis Charlie,” or “I am Charlie,” campaign that has sprung up over France is a representation of such emotions. People don’t deserve to die for their opinions, and the Charlie Hebdo attack makes us realize that we should always fight for our inherent rights.

Ferguson : A Rekindled Fire

Over the past couple of months, the shooting of Michael Brown has sparked a lot of controversy. As a recap, Michael Brown was shot by a police officer after he robbed a convenience store in Ferguson, Missouri. The reason behind the controversy is the ambiguity around what actually occurred that day. Did the police officer shoot and kill Michael Brown out of self defense as he says? Or did the police use excessive and lethal force for no good reason. Regardless, the police officer, Darren Wilson, went on trial for this possible crime. Riots broke out, shops were broken into, and violence was also present. Tensions escalated so quickly that police officers started rolling into the streets with military grade weaponry and vehicles. For days this chaos was present, and took time to disappear.

Now that same chaos has reappeared in a more destructive form. Darren Wilson was not indited for this crime, and protests have broken out in all parts of the countries. The city of Ferguson was practically on fire. Citizens are outraged how this officer could get away with this crime, despite the lack of substantial evidence supporting his claim. The man who had his store robbed by Michael Brown was brutally beaten up, and his store was destroyed and robbed. Furthermore, there was a protest in the Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. The governor of Missouri asked for more armed officers in the Ferguson area in fear of mass disruption outside of the area.

At first, it was just the citizens of Ferguson outraged at the police force and government with the country closely watching. Now, the country is involved as the issue of police brutality is omnipresent. More and more cases of police brutality are having light shed on due to social media sites, allowing more people to view and form opinions on the subject.

Ferguson simply showcased the extent of the abuse of power that the police makes. All it takes is one event to cause a major conflict. Tensions between police forces and the public have been rising for years, and we have finally seen them cause that very conflict. This issue needs to be tackled immediately as police forces are increasingly gaining access to military equipment.