The benefits versus harm of vaccines is a hot topic at the moment, especially in Los Angeles where whooping cough is making a resurgence, allegedly due to wealthy parents withholding their children…

John Lyons reports on some seismic shifts in where cocaine is produced, for the Wall Street Journal: In the dusty town of Villa Tunari in Bolivia’s tropical coca-growing region, farmers used to…

Operation ChristmasThe BBC reports:

The Colombian army says it has installed a giant Christmas tree in Farc rebel territory, to encourage guerrilla fighters to demobilize. Special forces infiltrated the remote Macarena mountain range to dress a 25m (82 ft) high tree with 2,000 lights.

Movement sensors will make the tree light up when guerrillas approach. The army says it will put up trees in nine other rebel-held zones to spread the message that Christmas is a good time to abandon armed struggle.

The Colombian government says more than 2,000 guerrillas demobilized this year under a scheme that gives them amnesty and help to return to civilian life. “Operation Christmas,” as it was code named, was carried out by elite troops using Blackhawk helicopters.

The Telegraph reports on Colombian police’s seizure of a parrot that served as a lookout for a drug cartel — the Spanish-speaking bird cries, “run, run you are going to get caught” upon spotting uniformed officers. Here’s the staggering part: authorities say they have seized nearly 1,700 parrots that were similarly under the employ of drug traffickers.

Chris Kraul reports from Bogota, Colombia, for the Los Angeles Times:

Police in Ecuador seized a 100-foot submarine being built by suspected drug traffickers capable of carrying a crew of six and 10 tons of cocaine on underwater voyages lasting up to 10 days — a “game changer” for U.S. anti-drug and border security efforts, officials said Monday.

A raid Friday by 120 police officers and soldiers netted the fiberglass sub as it was nearing completion in a clandestine “industrial complex”…

World Cup of CokeBBC News reports:

A replica World Cup trophy seized by anti-drugs police in Colombia is made out of cocaine, lab tests have confirmed. The 36cm (14in) statue was found in a delivery crate at Bogota airport.

The crate was in an airmail warehouse waiting to be sent to an address in Spain, airport anti-drug chief Jose Piedrahita said. In another development, a submarine built by drug-traffickers was found in Ecuador before its maiden voyage.

The World Cup replica was made up of 11kg (24 lb) of the drug, mixed with acetone or gasoline to make it mouldable.

CNN’s Karl Penhaul reports from the mountains of Southwest Colombia:

Through the afternoon downpour a horse plods along a muddy mountain path. I can smell him almost before he rounds the bend. He’s weighed down with more than 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of freshly-picked marijuana.