From the Newsletter (07/31/08)   

NOTICE: If you've requested the Newsletter and it doesn't show up in your
Inbox, check your junk mail; if you still can't find it, please send us an e-mail


Development Without Deforestation - by Doug Boucher

Which Fossil Fuels Will Get Us to Solar - by David Schwartzman

Food and Fuel Crisis - Surprise? - by Peter Caplan and John Tharakan

Intellectual Property and Patenting Law - by Ishi

Invalid Drug Tests = Wrongful Convictions - by John Kelly

Green Scare: Update - compiled by Jane Zara

Syringe Exchange Funding Back in DC! - compiled by Jane Zara

The Yellow Bean Has Returned to the Pyblic Domain - compiled by Jane Zara

Testimony Presented by DC Metro Science for the People
    1. Klingle Valley Road
    2. DC Incarceration Rate

Books of Interest

Ask Dr. Science

Al Gore Places Son in Rocket to Escape Dying Planet - The Onion




 Development Without Deforestation: a new response to global warming, by Doug Boucher

Article for WorldView, the National Peace Corps Association magazine


The magnitude of the global warming crisis is becoming clear worldwide, and practically all nations on Planet Earth are considering how it will affect them and what can be done to combat it. Hybrid vehicles, wind power, improved insulation, solar collectors,  congestion pricing to fund mass transit – the list of potential solutions is long and getting longer. Yet one of the most important possibilities – reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (usually abbreviated REDD) – has only recently gotten widespread attention, and even many environmentalists are unaware that about 20% of greenhouse gas emissions actually come from tropical deforestation.

The reason is simple – trees are about half carbon, and when they’re cut down or burned up, they release that carbon into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Thus, countries with high deforestation rates also have high emissions. In fact, although the U.S. and China are in close contention for the dubious distinction of being the world’s largest producers of global warming pollution, numbers three and four are actually Indonesia and Brazil. While rich countries’ emissions are predominantly from burning fossil fuels, those of Indonesia, Brazil and other tropical countries are almost all from deforestation.

The U.N. climate conference in Bali in December 2007 was a big step forward in dealing with this source of global warming. Over 180 countries agreed that REDD will be one of the major elements of the international treaty on global warming that is to be negotiated and agreed on in Copenhagen in December 2009. While most of the details remain to be worked out, the outlines of the deal are simple: tropical countries would reduce their rates of deforestation, and thus their emissions, while industrial countries would compensate them for the sacrifice of resources – the “opportunity cost” of not using forest land for farming, ranching and timber production – that this reduction in deforestation would require. Effectively, tropical forests would become more valuable when protected, as if they were converted to agriculture. “Development without deforestation” would become a real possibility.

This would not only make a major dent in the problem of global warming, but also be a great contribution to the protection of the world’s biodiversity. Since tropical forests are home to half of the planet’s species of plants and animals, slowing  deforestation – even if it’s done in order to keep their carbon locked up in their trees – would also have the important “co-benefit” of preventing the extinction of millions of species. In addition, it would protect the ecosystems that are the homes and sources of livelihood for forest peoples such indigenous groups around the world. And it has the potential to transfer large amounts of money – many times as large as the total of all foreign aid – to poor nations to fund their development.

So, in broad outlines the potential is clear, and would provide benefits for people around the world. But as is always the case, the sticking points in the negotiations are in the details of exactly how to do it. Should reductions in deforestation emissions be paid for by serving as “offsets” to industrial emissions in cap-and-trade carbon markets? Or should a global fund be set up to compensate tropical countries? Or should there be major increases in international lending? Or all of the above, as in the “basket of approaches” concept proposed by the Coalition for Rain Forest Nations, led by Costa Rica and Papua New Guinea?

Lots of complicated negotiations lie ahead before a new climate treaty, including REDD, can be signed in 2009 and go into force in 2013. But the good news out of Bali was that all the major countries involved – both the tropical ones that would reduce their deforestation, and the temperate ones that would fund it – agree that it is critical to include it in the forthcoming agreement. The twenty-first century can be, for the first time in human history, the epoch of development without deforestation.





Which Fossil Fuels Will Get Us to Solar
David Schwartzman


We are now witnessing a huge rise in the price of oil and of food, even in countries of the global North, with devastating consequences. The rise in food prices is the combined result of the rising price of oil, the shift to biofuels such as corn-fed ethanol and of commodity speculation.


It is not yet clear whether the price rise in crude oil is likely to continue into the indefinite future because we are now seeing the first impacts of Peak Oil, specifically the inability to supply global oil demand with the existing infrastructure, or whether we are simply witnessing an exercise in profit-taking by the energy transnationals and oil-exporting countries. Nevertheless, this new energy crisis, superficially a repeat of that of 1973 and 1989, is now thrust upon us simultaneously with ever-increasing signs of a climate crisis. I will address only the question of which fuel is the best choice in the transition to a new global solar infrastructure, arguably the only real alternative to the unsustainable one now existing, discussing this choice in the context of possible future global political economies.


Serious precautions should be taken with respect to the near-futureprospect of catastrophic global warming ("cgw"). Therefore, given the continuing uncertainties inherent in climate science, a rapid transition to a global solar infrastructure is imperative for cgw prevention. Tipping points into a dangerous new climate regime, including irreversible melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps, are plausibly so near (see Lenton et al., 2008) that Jim Hansen (2008), a leading climate scientist, has recently concluded that our present atmospheric CO2 level is already too high (385 ppm) and must be brought down to 350 ppm or less by about 2050 to avoid them. The technology for this solar energy source, high-efficiency capture and conversion, is already at hand, namely wind turbines, photovoltaics and concentrated solar conversion in desert areas.


Further, I argue that the biggest obstacle to rapid conversion to full solarization is the diversion of needed funding and resources by huge global military budget, the nuclear military industrial fossil fuel complex ("MIC" for short) it supports and of course the dominant faction of national/transnational capital with its political apparatus, especially its U.S. component (for fuller discussion see Schwartzman, 2008). MIC and its imperial apparatus must be confronted, isolated, and finally eliminated as the biggest threat to human survival, with the prospect of cgw joining the continuing threat of nuclear annihilation (even a small regional nuclear conflict may have devastating climatic consequences for all humanity; see Mills et al., 2008). The huge role of MIC in the U.S. and global economy is illustrated by the military expenditure of over $1.2 trillion in 2006, with the U.S. responsible for 46% of the total (1).


Even this total may be underestimated: According to the War Resisters League: the U.S. 2009 Fiscal Year military budget is actually $1.449 trillion (the U.S. GNP in 2006 was $11.5trillion) (2). The projected $3 trillion for the Iraq War and occupation (3) is approximately equal to the estimated renewable energy investment of $2.89 trillion needed by 2030 to insure a 50% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 (4).


But a transition to solar will require using fossil fuel, the dominant energy source now available, for the creation of this alternative infrastructure. Moreover, it will be necessary to tap into fossil fuels as a continuing energy source until full solarization isachieved, even with the very significant reductions of energy use possible in industrialized countries with aggressive conservation, especially for buildings and transportation (e.g., mass transit replacing cars). Carbon emissions contributing to global warming must be minimized during this transition.


The major fossil fuels now used are coal and petroleum (refined liquid hydrocarbons and natural gas), with alternatives such as tar sands and oil shale thankfully still marginal given their even greater negative environmental and health impacts from extraction. Which fossil fuel is the best choice for this minimization? An emission ratio of CO2 emitted to released energy tells us just how much CO2 emission will occur using a specific fossil fuel for energy. According to Smil (2003) the typical emission ratio of coal to refined oil to natural gas (methane) is 25 to 19 to14. Thus natural gas is the best choice for the solar transition, releasing for the same energy produced only 56% the CO2 compared to coal, with liquid hydrocarbon fuel at 76%. However, there is one important caveat. Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, molecule per molecule. Significant amounts of methane are already leaked to the atmosphere during the extraction and transportation of natural gas (see discussion in Smil, 2003, p. 215). If natural gas use increases, then such leakage must be reduced to achieve the desired reduction in greenhouse effect derived from the emission ratios given above.

I will now compare the recommendations of four leading advocates (Jim Hansen, Michael Klare, Arjun Makhijani and Hermann Scheer) of a rapid renewable energy transition, and discuss the political economic implications of their prescriptions of choice.


First, Hansen. "We need a moratorium on the construction of traditional coal-fired power plants by 2010 and a phaseout by 2030," Hansen told Mark Hertsgaard (The Nation, June 23, 2008; see Hansen, 2008, for a full discussion of this issue). Hansen leaves an opening for continued coal use, if carbon capture technology is employed during its combustion. This possibility looks more remote than ever, especially given the decade or two left to begin rapid reduction in carbon emissions. Recently federal funding was cut for this pilot technology (Matthew L. Wald, "Mounting Costs Slow the Push for Clean Coal", May 30, 2008, New York Times).


Hansen argues that carbon sequestration from the atmosphere can be accomplished using appropriate agricultural and forestry practices. It should be stressed that the creation of a solar infrastructure will also permit direct CO2 removal from the atmosphere, without concomitant release of greenhouse gases.Thus the fossil fuel of choice for Hansen is petroleum, liquid and natural gas. He argues that even moderate estimates of remaining reserves are sufficient to implement his scenario of cgw prevention.

Michael Klare is the scholar who has documented so well the growing threat of resource wars, especially over depleteable energy supplies such as petroleum. He now fully recognizes the challenge of global warming in this discourse (e.g., Klare, 2008a, 2008b), correcting this neglect in his previous writings (see my critique ) Klare emphasizes our dependence on oil and ties militarism to the protection and control of its supply, and of course the political power of the transnational energy corporations. He calls the Pentagon the "petroleum protection service" of MIC.


Noting the huge role of coal in China's energy production, Klare argues that the U.S., China, Russia and India must collaborate in reducing dependence on petroleum, shifting instead to alternatives including biofuel ethanol (a very bad choice), "climate-friendly coal" (i.e., carbon sequestration) as well solar. He claims that a "lessening in international friction and conflict over contested sources of energy would also permit a gradual reduction in global military expenditures and thereby free up substantial funds for systematic efforts to tackle the threat of global warming" (p.260, Hansen,2008b). How "gradual" is the real issue, and will it occur in time to prevent cgw?


A clear and detailed plan for U.S. solarization is outlined in Arjun Makhijani's Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free (2007). Makhijani proposes that natural gas combined with carbon sequestration be the last fossil fuel source as the renewable transition is completed by mid-century.

I argue that a radical transformation of U.S. political economy is a pre- and co-condition for the transformation of the global physical economy into a solar-based infrastructure. Demilitarization is imperative as Klare and Makhijani explicitly recognize. Perhaps we are even near a political tipping point with respect to the necessity of demilitarization. Even neo-liberal mainstream figures such as Jeffrey Sachs have recently spoken out in support of cuts in the military budget , Apr 25, 2008, Jeffrey D. Sachs interviewed by Bill Maher). Peace and justice activists have in the last two years organized around the theme, "No War, No Warming". See also" . We are now seeing a very promising convergence of peace, justice and environmental movements.


Nevertheless, several very influential environmentalists who recognize the real danger of cgw and the need for solarization still avoid confronting the huge obstacle of military spending in their writing (e.g., Bill McKibben, 2008; Lester Brown, 2008). It is highly implausible to expect that "one company at a time going green" will occur at a fast enough pace to avoid the dreaded climatic tipping points facing all humanity. Likewise, the Pentagon going green, reducing its fossil fuel consumption while continuing to serve as a "petroleum protection service" for MIC, will be at best a smokescreen for a plunge into the abyss of climate catastrophe.


We must put prevention of cgw at the nexus of our social movements, starting with the global peace and anti-imperalist network. A demilitarized world is necessary for amplifying the cooperation needed to manage existing fossil fuel supplies in a rapid and effective transition to full solarization.

In a brilliant outline of this transition Hermann Scheer (2007), the architect of Germany's rapid growth of renewables, proposes the establishment of an International Renewable Energy Agency. Let's work for a world with an IREA, with the International Atomic Energy Agency left with a task of coordinating the final decommissioning of the last nuclear power plant on the planet. While several countries in Europe are rapidly solarizing, with Portugal apparently in the lead ("Portugal finds a power niche in the sun", March. 18, 2008, transnational capital centered on the energy conglomerates is still strongly committed to expanded fossil fuel exploration and extraction and to nuclear power expansion (Scheer, 2007b, p. 80-82). Scheer (2007b) identifies "the perversion of energy security by the securing of resources through military means" as a critical "blockade to action" (i.e., renewable transition).


Conclusion: Because of its significantly lower ratio of carbon emission to energy released, the fossil fuel of choice for a solar transition is petroleum, or better, natural gas if leakage to the atmosphere can be effectively contained. Similarly, increasing U.S. energy self-sufficiency utilizing domestic natural gas supplies is far preferable to depending on the sizable reserves of domestic coal, since carbon capture coupled with coal combustion is far too problematic to be a viable option. Another drawback is the well known negative environmental and health impacts of coal extraction. Ending fossil fuel "addiction" should translate into policies that favor rapid solar transition accompanied by significant energy conservation and decreasing use of fossil fuels, starting with coal. This path, which is essential for prevention of catastrophic global warming and the creation of an equitable new international energy regime will require significant and rapid demilitarization, starting with Imperial U.S.A. With increasing oil prices and peak oil on the horizon, oil exporting countries in the Global South, particularly those moving away from neo-liberal policies such as Venezuela, should seriously consider investing their new found revenues into renewable energy infrastructures. Likewise, the oil-rich states in the Mideast and Near East should invest in solar technology, so compatible with their high solar fluxes.


All those committed to the peace and justice movement must confront this crisis. At minimum, the resulting escalation of the prices of essentials must be addressed by massive subsidies to low income and working people.



  1. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, "Recent trends in military expenditure," published online at: Published online at:
  2. Joseph E. Stiglitz with Linda J. Bilmes, The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict (New York: WW Norton, 2008).
  3. Greenpeace and European Renewable Energy Council, "Futu[r]e Investment: A sustainable investment plan for the power sector to save the climate," July 2007, published online at:


  • Brown, L., 2008, Plan B 3.0. New York: W W Norton. published online at::
  • Hansen, J. et al., 2008, Target atmospheric CO2: Where should humanity aim?, Target atmospheric CO2: Supporting material.
  • Klare, M., 2008a, Tomgram: Michael Klare, Oil Rules! Tom Dispatch,, April 15.
  • Klare, M., 2008b, Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy. Metropolitan Books, N.Y.
  • Lenton , T.M. et al., 2008, Tipping elements in the Earth's climate system. PNAS 105, No. 6: 1786-1793.
  • Makhijani, A., Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free. IEER Press, Takoma Park, MD. Available online at:
  • McKibben, B., 2008. The Greenback effect: Greed has helped destroy the planet- Maybe now it can help save it. Mother Jones, May-June, 43-45.
  • Mills, M.J. et al., 2008, Massive global ozone loss predicted following regional nuclear conflict. PNAS 105, No. 14: 5307-5312.
  • Scheer, H., 2007a, Renewable Energy in the Future. In: Surviving the Century, H. Girardet (ed.), pp.37-55, Earthscan, London.
  • Scheer, H., 2007a, Energy Autonomy: The economic, social and technological case for renewable energy., Earthscan, London.
  • Schwartzman, D., 2008, Ecosocialism or Ecocatastrophe.
  • Smil, V., 2003, Energy at the Crossroads. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.




Food and Fuel Crisis - Surprise?
big pharma
by Peter Caplan and John Tharakan

The world is now officially in a 'food crisis' with rioting in the streets and twisted evolutionists claiming Malthus actually had it right, and hosts of experts in every field from agriculture to zoology blaming the errors of earlier experts in all their various disciplines. But this mother of all crises has been decades in the making, has had numerous interacting causative factors, and there are many who can justifiably claim 'I told you so', as unwise policies of privatization, deregulation, debt restructuring and wealth and resource transfer from developing to developed countries ran rampant. It seems like it's just now coming to a head, but its been doing that for years and in various sectors of our global population that have suffered already and others that now wait in trepidation as prices mount, availability declines, and global climate change seems to march right on. So what was going on?

About a year and a half ago (see Newsletter article) Fidel Castro, reacting to news of massive subsidies for ethanol, warned in a pair of articles in Granma of losses of food-growing land and deforestation and of the consequent premature deaths of billions from hunger and the indirect effects of climate change. While the world press focused on his rhetorical exaggerations, e.g., "let the poor countries receive some financing to produce ethanol from corn or any other foodstuff and very soon not a single tree will be left standing to protect humanity from climate change"", ridiculing the basic message, a well-researched article appeared in Foreign Affairs, authored by U of MN professors C. Ford Runge and Benjamin Senauer, predicting precisely how the diversion of acreage in the U.S. from food to fuel would affect prices of other crops on a global scale:

   "The World Bank has estimated that in 2001, 2.7 billion people in the world were living on the equivalent of less than $2 a day; to them, even marginal increases in the cost of staple grains could be devastating. Filling the 25-gallon tank of an SUV with pure ethanol requires over 450 pounds of corn -- which contains enough calories to feed one person for a year. By putting pressure on global supplies of edible crops, the surge in ethanol production will translate into higher prices for both processed and staple foods around the world. Biofuels have tied oil and food prices together in ways that could profoundly upset the relationships between food producers, consumers, and nations in the years ahead, with potentially devastating implications for global poverty"


 In the space of a single year not long after after these words were written (from Jul 1 2007 to July 1 2008) the price of a barrel of crude oil went from about $66 to $145, a factor of 2.2, making ethanol look better than ever, even while corn rose by a factor of 1.6, soybeans 1.5, wheat 1.6 and rice about 2.  People are literally rioting in the streets. Obviously, the demand for food has not risen 50 % in a year, no matter how middle-class Indians and Chinese may be stuffing themselves, nor have the gas guzzlers managed to more than double their consumption. Nor has there been a sudden plunge in supply, the floods in Iowa notwithstanding (and, loss of corn due to recent weather is hard to blame for the pre-existing rises in rice and wheat and soy).


So if current supply and current demand can't account for these incredible price surges then the likely candidate is speculation. Or is it? Yes, say many voices in U.S. Congress; not really, at least for oil, according to Paul Krugman of the NY Times, who sees similar rises in iron ore and suggests that it's merely due to "growing demand from emerging economies".


Matthew Miller of AlterNet agrees. For him, the mass media are pointing the finger at speculation to divert attention from the need to make the hard decisions about what is and will soon be recognized as a permanent energy crisis.


And, Lester Brown on ethanol and world food prices: "If the entire U.S. grain harvest were converted into ethanol, it would satisfy scarcely 18 percent of our automotive fuel needs." [back-of-the envelope calculation: just by driving the cars we actually have more economically, the same number of miles, but just a bit more slowly (70 mph down to 60mph)and we could not have to use any of that ethanol.]


William Engdahl of Global Research on oil pricing "…today's oil prices are really determined is done by a process so opaque only a handful of major oil trading banks such as Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley have any idea who is buying and who selling oil futures or derivative contracts that set physical oil prices in this strange new world of ‘paper oil’ " and blames more than 60% on hedge fund speculators for most of the latest price surge. Major commodities trader Jeffrey Sprecher, who says the industry wants more regulation, claiming that most crude oil swaps are arranged over the phone (NY Times, 7/25/2008).


George Soros, who has made plenty of his billions from hedge funds, says it's a bubble (Daily Telegraph, 5/26/2008) and it will collapse as we get deeper into "the most serious recession in our lifetime". And, New Yorker financial columnist James Surowiecki, takes the optimistic view (7/7/2008) that's it's just the laws of the market, with a dash of "shortage psychology".


None of these contradictory opinions seem adequate because we are now caught in not one, but a network of interacting positive feedback loops, a series of tipping points, perhaps the near-term epitome of our evolutionary perfect storm. The systems are unstable and as demand approaches supply, they become even more unstable. They are further stimulated by instantaneous global communication, making possible quick switches of capital and by a skittish herd mentality. They can respond quickly and disproportionately to even small perturbations - a flood here, a crop disease there, a threat from or against an oil-producing country, real shortages, fears of shortages, a few careless words by the Chairman of the Fed or perhaps even a bunch of bloggers. Are you speculating when you're a manager of a union retirement fund making a bet on a commodity, or are you just trying to protect your people who were nearly wiped out when you invested in sub-prime mortgages? How much of an impact on oil prices does the U.S. have when it hints that an attack on Iran is an option to be kept on the table? And when Iran releases photos of a test-firing of four missiles (one of which was photo-shopped in)? There's a good discussion of this in Newsweek (July 7/14/2008) by Jorge Castaneda. (See also the 7/25/08 New Yorker article by Seymour  Hersh). So, is the message for the investor, buy your oil now - it's headed for $200?


As for food, it is already too late for the couple of billion people on this planet who live on less than $2 a day. It may be too late to get us out of the present crisis but if we get a chance to do things right, we may try being sanguine about the future.  Walden Bello has presented a cogent analysis of some of the sources of instability in the world food markets in his Nation piece "Manufacturing a Food Crisis", which looks at the crisis of soaring food prices and starvation in the developing countries in the framework of long-standing global food policies imposed by the World Bank and the IMF. He shows how countries such as Mexico and the Philippines were induced by IMF/World Bank and NAFTA policies to weaken support for local production of staple crops, corn and rice, respectively in favor of cash crops for export. And the weirdest thing of all was that the IMF required governments to do this by slashing agricultural subsidies while tightly hanging onto agricultural subsidies that the developed world provides to their own farmers.


 Interestingly, countries that eventually defied the IMF and WB policies on agricultural subsidies – such as Malawi (NY Times, 12/2/2007) – and reintroduced fertilizer subsidies -- saw hunger levels decline rapidly in the years following.  So the multilateral global agency policies put them in the position of having to import at today's bloated prices the same staples, often at further-inflated prices due to grower subsidies in the U.S. and EU, that they used to export, adding to global demand and putting further upward pressure on prices. The smallholder in Mexico and the Philippines - and indeed in other parts of Latin America, Asia and Africa are being replaced by agribusiness in a process he calls "de-peasantization".


And Michael Pollan makes two points - kill the corn ethanol program and create an integrated and re-solarized agriculture so it's not oil-dependent. He adds "We have to remember that the arable land in this world is a precious and finite resource, and we should be using it to grow food for people, not for cars and animals."


If biofuels development must happen, it certainly doesn’t need to displace food crops; there is plenty of “waste” and non-arable land available for fuel crop cultivation.  There is also enough hardy and appropriate biomass – such as jatropha (see link for a general background and discussion and for specific illustration of jatropha based bio-fuels in India). These hardy non-edible crops can be grown on this type of land with small inputs and would be able to provide sustainable feedstocks for biodiesel and ethanol.


Finally, despite this ‘food crisis’, wastage of food and obesity continues to bedevil our civilization.  Per capita consumption of energy in India and China is roughly one twentieth that in the U.S., but it is rapidly rising, as ever more  people  strive for entry into the middle class; and rising along with it are  obesity levels, and incidence of heart disease and other “diseases of affluence”.  In the US, this level of energy consumption is clearly necessary if the dream - a nice house on a third of an acre with two cars in the garage, a shopping mall close by with enough big-box stores and restaurants to feed our ‘market-inspired’ appetites for consumption and personal satisfaction - is to be achieved.

To even begin to develop a solution to this crisis, mitigation of consumption amongst those with the largest ecological footprint is imperative, even as the trend to over-consumption is expanding and the global middle class seeks out the American Hollywood dream - a dream that has so successfully been globalized that everybody, not just the Chinese and Indians, but folks from Accra to Zanzibar, Rio to Singapore, Dubai to Melbourne, Anchorage to Vladivostok - all may want a piece of that dream. Who are we, mega-consumers with hands bloody from our latest war for cheap oil,  to tell them that they don’t deserve it?  The global crises that we are facing now may just be the many faces of that underlying and ancient problem: distribution of wealth



Intellectual Property and Patenting Law
by Ishi



The book 'Death of Patents' edited by P. Drahos was recently the topic of a SFtP discussion, in particular the chapter by J. R. Thomas (of Georgetown Law School) on "Proprietary Rights and Personal Liberties". 


[B]oth Drahos and Thomas have many papers available on the internet, which discuss topics mentioned in the discussion.  Among the issues discussed by Drahos and Thomas were 1) whether patents restrict access of people to medicines they need, 2) whether patents permit businesses to privatize what may in a sense be common property, 3) and as a result, permit businesses to restrict the rights of others, and 4) what the social welfare effects of the legal bureaucracy involved in intellectual property are. 


This last topic is essentially a 'law and economics' or 'mechanism design' problem, and considers the cost and benefits, or efficiency, of social institutions and behaviors, whether for property rights or anything else (e.g. definitions of criminal behavior and how these relate to the optimal size of the 'prison industrial complex'). In the case of patent law,  benefits include promoting the development of innovative and useful products, while costs include 'deadweight losses' involved in litigation over competing claims, and from overly restrictive property rights (what Drahos terms 'information feudalism'), leading to loss of potential innovations.   In addition, from a 'green' or 'post-materialist' perspective, many patented innovations actually lower social welfare since they are environmentally, personally and socially destructive.  This last point is disputed by some libertarian, market oriented economists who claim 'more is always better' even if only through a mechanism of 'creative destruction'.  For example, WW2 was a major factor in the development of the internet…


The first point, the problem of patents restricting access to medicines, is illustrated by the history of the government of Brazil's approach to AIDS drugs, in which case it was found that by  infringing on patent laws for AIDS drugs it was able to have them produced and made available for a fraction of the price listed by the patent holders. Here, health care, particularly for the poor, was seen as more important than protecting corporate profits (and recovering any investments made in research).  Activist work by groups such as ACT-UP show how one approach---via protesting and shaming---can lead to alteration of terms by which  patents  like this are enforced.


The second problem, of excessive privatization, is illustrated by so-called 'biopiracy', in which indigenous knowledge (eg medicinal herbs or genetic variants of food plants) is patented. This is reminiscent of the way the USA's land was privatized with little or no recognition of indigenous claims, or of the 'enclosure' movement in Ireland in which the land of peasant farmers was appropriated to form large private estates. It seems interesting that while GM or selectively bred variants of common plants can be patented, the original strains are not afforded such protection.  Some argue (e.g. Chen, on the blog Jurisdynamics) that biopiracy actually is not much of a problem, because few indigenous plants have proved marketable, and to the extent it is, can be side-stepped by slight modifications of existing law. (However, Chen's arguments are undermined by his use of some questionable assumptions and forms of reasoning---e.g. he relies on somewhat vague notions such as 'memes' as opposed to 'genes', and also adopts a standard 'techno-fix' approach to social problems, such as obesity, arguing it likely will be solved by developing patentable pharmaceutical products, without mentioning the alternative idea that obesity may be primarily a social problem generated by profit seeking owners of the junk food industries---many of which will happily diversify into the diet drug industry.)   


The third problem, emphasized by Thomas, as I understood it, discusses how rulings by Patent Judges may actually override Constitutional rights, such as for free speech, because of the organization of the legal system (which places Patent rulings under state jurisdiction).   This topic may be particularly relevant given the recent finding that the method by which patent judges themselves are appointed may be unconstitutional, which means that both patent laws and those who make them are outside Constitutional control. However, others argue against Thomas, and claim that this fear is overrated.  A more familiar example might be the issue of regulation of access to the internet by businesses through discriminatory pricing schemes.  Such cases make intellectual property law more similar to other forms of property law in the way it determines who has rights for its use - for survival or entertainment - since patents, like legal deeds for land ownership, essentially give the owner a monopoly.  


It can be noted that this third problem is commonly discussed using the notions of 'the tragedy of the commons' and 'the tragedy of the anticommons'.  It embodies the entire debate over property, from the notion that 'property is freedom' embraced by libertarian (laissez faire) capitalists, to the notion that 'property is theft', embraced by communists. 


The first tragedy refers to what happens when no property rights are enforced, and hence supposedly self-interested and greedy individuals will essentially monopolize, and possibly exploit, common property  to the detriment of all.  It can be mentioned that more sophisticated versions of this tragedy emphasize that explicit legal protections are sometimes unnecessary and counterproductive, and actually lead to the second tragedy, because traditional norms can better serve the same purpose; in particular, indigenous communities often have informal rules which regulate a commons which prove more optimal than formal legal codes.


A commonly cited example of the 'tragedy of the commons' is the claim by the music industry that free downloading of music discourages innovation because it does not reward or provide any incentive or support to the musicians who make it. It is parasitism, or so-called 'free riding'. 


UCSD economist D. Levine makes the standard argument against this kind of claim, which is that music is actually so cheap to produce that there really are no costs to recover and hence no rational for selling it (just as some biological parasites actually incur no costs to their hosts).  One claim might be that authentic musicians, being ethereal types, have no need for food or shelter, and in fact, if given money inevitably squander it on dope---so they have little need to be paid, and doing so is actually damaging…


One solution to the free riding problem is provided by mildly socialistic 'guaranteed income' proponents (e.g. Thomas Paine and Herbert Simon).   They argue for a midway position between open and closed source assignation of intellectual property rights, by assigning to everyone some fraction of a common pool of intellectual property (e.g. the $15 trillion US stock market, or the stock of musical or academic capital), and then to compensate everyone for any uses of that.   Hence, everyone would get a dividend or rental check.  Then, open source 'gift economies' of free replication could exist for every other uses of intellectual property.  The idea here is that the value of a corporation like Microsoft, or of a billion dollar selling academic textbook industry, actually owes partly to taxpayer funding of university research. After Microsoft, textbook authors and sellers, and taxpayers are compensated, all other intellectual property exchanges might be free, such as for books, education, music, or credentials.  Current monopolies for certification might also likely be downsized, as is already happening via the free software movement, and one might see more development of alternative health therapies, alternative economic theories, and so on.   Tests like the SAT, which are already being made non-mandatory by some enlightened colleges, would no longer play such a large and profitable role in determining patterns of social access and production.   Red lining by banks might become less common, and so on.  )   It can be mentioned that other 'mixed private/common' solutions to the free riding problem exist, such as creative commons licenses, and the 'copyfarleft' idea (D. Kleiner).         


The arguments by Levine and others for open source, free downloading, and against intellectual property rights, essentially are focused on the second tragedy, of the 'anti-commons'.  This refers to the case when the commons is overly privatized, and hence so many are excluded from its use that its productivity declines.   As mentioned, Drahos, in his free on-line book, "Information Feudalism", emphasizes this aspect. Levine similarly is worried about all the wonderful music that might be lost if everyone on the planet cannot freely sample and combine everything in the vast musical library.   Brian Martin, in his (also free on-line) book 'Against Information Property', takes the anti-commons argument to the extreme, even arguing against patents and copyrights. 


Interestingly though, Martin doesn't extend the argument further to 'tangible' property, as do anarchists such as Proudhon, who originated the phrase that 'property is theft'.    Like Henry George, and remembering Descartes, Martin is what I term a 'dualist', who makes a strong distinction between 'material' and 'immaterial' creations, or mind and matter.   Non-dualists (say 'Kantians' or 'dialecticians'), sometimes inspired by 'theories of everything' in physics (e.g. those of Einstein, Spinoza, and Leibniz) don't make such a distinction. (Indeed some argue by analogy, and simplistically, that since E=MC squared,  matter and (immaterial) energy are convertible---matter is 'mass', and energy is simply another kind of mass.   Massless photons can condense into massive particles, just as 'words' can be 'made flesh', and ideas can turn into tangible property.  (J. Chen uses this idea when he suggests that law be seen as a form of language acquisition---and socially, 'the word made flesh'. 


The fourth and last issue was stressed by both Drahos and Thomas.  Here patent litigation can almost appear similar to the Israeli-Palestinian 'peace process', or similar litigation concerning claims by indigenous US Citizens over royalties for minerals extracted from native reservations.   There is a large industry simply devoted to throwing sand in the gears of any claim or dispute resolution process.  This is reminiscent of some who promote conspiracy theories or who have ideological attachments to anti-evolutionary or anti-environmental agendas, in media, research and religious institutions.  This critique is comparable to that by critics of the 'prison industrial complex', who argue some laws (e.g. distinct crack cocaine penalties) exist simply to create social stigma and hierarchy, as well as profits for prison builders and managers, not to mention criminal justice academic departments and journal producers, media pundits and producers of TV shows such as Law and Order or The Wire), police officers, surveillance technology designers in industry and academia,  and the legal professions.  


Although patent law is designed presumably to efficiently transform innovative knowledge into useful products, because patents can lead to profits, there is also a large incentive to try to game the system, by concealing information which may eventually be patentable, by attempting to patent just about anything, and to dispute the validity of patent claims by others.  Presumably, there are also attempts to patent 'fake' information as subterfuges to confuse competing product developers, as well as to plagiarize others' work, including that which is already patented …


Thomas in particular seems to emphasize proliferation of 'frivolous patent' claims.   Some examples I have heard of in this regard include attempts to patent fragments of DNA which are not known to be associated with any genetic product, attempts to patent well known methods for solving mathematical problems, and even theorems. In health, many 'innovations' actually are essentially 'imitations', so a lot of both 'research' work and patent litigation are minimally productive of much besides profits. Of course, mimicry in general, in the arts, and in nature, is often a successful survival strategy, seen as part of natural 'creative destruction'.          


Beyond simple corruption and 'rent seeking' behavior on the part of patent seekers, is the issue of how the legal beurocracy itself is involved in the capitalistic, profit making privatization process of the patent system.   Thomas, in an article on SSRN, for example suggests that the patent granting process might be opened up somewhat so that anyone might be able to contest a patent, and in fact be awarded a prize if their objection holds up.  This might de-professionalize the process.  This idea is similar to those who help people without legal credentials represent themselves before the court.  Thomas's idea complements one called 'prizes not patents', of which Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laueate for Economics, is a proponent, which suggests that people simply be given prizes rather than awarding long term patent and property rights.  This latter idea is related to older ones for making property claims limited in time, such as by using dated currencies, similar to coupons, which would 'rot' or expire if saved: 'use it or lose it'.  Thomas also criticizes the fact that patent rulings often appear to ignore the academic literature on the subject, and hence are based more on factors beyond academic merit..


The title of an article by Thomas, "the patenting of the liberal professions', actually can be taken to be one more indictment of the legal bureaucracy enforcing  property rights.   In this case, the academic selection process which determines who will be involved in litigation, whether as attorneys, judges, or patent assessors, who are typically far removed from any innovative product development subject to patent, are themselves part of a large bureaucratic 'filter' which regulates social property rights.


This view of the patent process raises other issues. One can look at the patent bureaucracy as part of the entire social system, particularly with regard to both production and distribution.   This issue is similar to drug development, in which marketing specialists may compromise a larger part of both the pharmaceutical industry workforce and receive greater compensation than those involved in actual drug production, or the hospital industry, in which insurance companies may constitute a larger sector than actual health care professionals.  It can be mentioned that calls for 'tort reform' and 'downsizing big government' sometimes are pointing to the same phenomena.  The relative size of the 'tangible' and 'intangible' economies is something that needs analyses.  This is well known when discussing things like sweatshop production which feeds into profits for Walmart shareholders, or the financial services industry, particularly those who live on interest, rent, or transaction costs.  Older examples include cases in which jazz and blues artists lost control of ownership rights of their music to record companies.


Related to this is what could be called the 'little eichmann' or 'ordinary german',  and 'einstein' problems.  This is the fact that any bureaucracy will tend to attempt to maintain itself, whether it is desirable or not.   Most bureaucracies serve dual purposes---e.g. the US government pays both social security and medicare, and Blackwater and Haliburton. Some members of the family which was the original owner of Exxon also are major contributors to ecological economics.  And, bureaucracies provide jobs, so the occasional Einstein might find a congenial environment to pay the rent until something better comes along, not to mention average people who also need congenial means by which to survive.  However, from a perspective critical of consumer culture, even if patents are given for products which are legally obtained, one can ask how many brands of potato chips or knock-off drugs are needed and how many people should be employed in the 'supply chains' involved in this economy.    



Invalid Drug Tests = Wrongful Convictions
ethanol bubble

by John Kelly

This review article describes the routine use preliminary (field) drug tests in the prosecution of many drug cases. The inaccuracy of these drug tests, as well as the courts' treatment of such shaky and oftentimes invalid evidence, are reviewed below and some useful links to court cases and reviews of some of these commonly used field drug tests are provided.

In 1979, the Supreme Court in Jackson v. Virginia found that when the
defense establishes through judicial notice that all the prosecution’s
drug identification tests are nonspecific, the prosecution’s drug
identification evidence is legally insufficient unless the prosecution
presents proof of the substance’s identity in addition to the analyst’s
conclusory assertion that the tests identify the substance.

In 1990, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals reviewed a possession of
cocaine conviction that relied on the nonspecific cobalt thiocyanate
test.  The circuit court trial judge, Dominic Amato stated that: “And
the only thing I can lay upon the record is that with regard to this
test, experts from the Crime Lab have indicated to this Court in other
cases that these tests are highly accurate and they wouldn’t be used
the way we have been using them, and they wouldn’t have been accepted
all this period of time, but for the fact of their high, high degree of
accuracy where a false positive is so remote that it deals with mere
possibilities, [sic] and possibilities are, all of us in this room
could win the  Illinois lottery.”

The Appeals  Court  disagreed and found that the cobalt  thiocyanate
test “is not specific for cocaine. It is also known as a nonspecific,
presumptive, color screening test. . . . Nonspecific, presumptive
screening tests for drugs such as the test employed in this case, may
result in what are called false positives, i. e., false identification
of cocaine when the substance is some other alkaloid. ‘The Scott field
test was designed to distinguish cocaine from other alkaloids, but is
deficient is distinguishing cocaine from other drug mixtures such as
lidocaine and PCP [phencyclidine].’ . . .

“[Detective Dennis] Eigenfield probably administered an accurate cobalt
thiocyanate test, but because the test is nonspecific, and by his
testimony he stated that the test is presumptive, the test results
cannot meet the rigorous burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt,
since it is was not a scientifically specific test for cocaine. It
could have been another drug. Thus, this court holds that the State
failed to meet the burden of proof establishing the second element of
the offense that Jackson was charged with, possession of a controlled
substance – cocaine. . . .

“For the above stated reasons, the trial court abused its discretion in
allowing into evidence the cobalt thiocyanate color screening test that
is known to be
nonspecific and presumptive as positive proof beyond a
reasonable doubt that the substance seized was cocaine establishing
Jackson’s guilt for possession of a controlled substance – cocaine. . .
. For these reasons, the trial court is ordered on remand to vacate the
judgment of conviction and dismiss this matter.”

The most commonly used field test for cocaine and crack is the Scott
field test which employs the cobalt thiocyanate test. Published reports
indicate that diphenhydramine hydrochloride, chloropromazine,
promazine  hydrochloride, scopolamine, promethazine with phencyclidine,
and a combination of phenycyclidine with either promazine, dibucaine,
or methaprilene as well as other medicines and designer drugs give
false positives with the Scott test. It has also been shown that too
much heroin or dibucaine also give false positives. In February 2004,
three boys were arrested in this manner by police in Tokyo; ultimately
it became clear that their substance was not cocaine but a legal drug.

J.D.Prall for one reported that diphenhydramine hydrochloride,
chloropromazine hydrochloride, and other medicines showed the same
color sequence as cocaine. M. Ishiguro et al found the same false
positive with promazine hydrochloride and scopolamine. S.K. Lorch
reported that promethazine alone or phencyclidine alone did not behave
like cocaine in the test, but that mixing them together caused a false
positive. Lorch also found that the combination of phencyclidine with
either promazine, dibucaine, or methapyrilene showed a false positive. 
F.W. Grant et al. stated that tests for cocaine based on cobalt
thiocyanante (used by the SFPD lab) showed an unacceptable incidence of
false positives and false negatives.

Another cause of false positives was sample size. Y. Tsumura et al
reported that proper sample size is critical for correct decisions,
since too much heroin or dibucaine showed exactly the same color
sequence as cocaine and thus gave false positives, and too much cocaine
showed persisting precipitates in the second step, yielding a false
negative. The appropriate sample size was 1 mg or smaller. Only two mg
of heroin or dibucaine gave false positives. On the other hand, 3 mg or
more of cocaine gave a false negative

They also found that freebase (crack) cocaine could give false
negatives even when the  sample size was appropriate, and it could not
be distinguished from a newer substance of abuse,
5-methoxy-N,N-disopropyltryptamine (5-MeO-DIPT, foxy).

Tsumura also found four chemicals that show the same color sequence as
crack cocaine: chloropromazine HCL, diphenhydramine HCL,
5-methoxy-N,N-disopropyltryptamine HCL (5-MeO-DIPT) and promethazine
HCL. They reported that if the complete disappearance of precipitates
at the second step was considered requisite for a cocaine-positive
decision, a crack cocaine sample would give a false negative. On the
other hand, if the persistence of precipitate at the second step was
not considered an obstacle to a positive decision, all four of the
chemicals would give false positives. Thus it became clear that the
persisting precipitate is one cause of false decisions.

Charles Fulton points out in Modern Microcrystal Tests for Drugs that:
“No color test for cocaine is known to the writer that is worth the
trouble of making it. This even applies to the blue precipitate with
cobalt thiocyanate (color precipitation test), used by some for
distinguishing cocaine from procaine or as indication of cocaine in the
presence of procaine; too many other local anesthetics are now on the
market besides these two.”/14

Peter Baker and Geoffrey F. Phillips reported that: “Field tests are
only for preliminary sorting. . . Winek and Eastly evaluated the (Scott
test) and considered it useful for pure materials suspected of being
cocaine, but found false positive reactions with some drug mixtures
that did not contain cocaine. These authors recommended that
confirmation of drug identity should always be sought by an
alternative  (chromatographic) technique . . . Basos and Hoffman, in a
brief review of field testing, emphasized that all field tests should
be confirmed in the laboratory, a point which the reviewers have

0AC.L. O’Neil et al reported that: “The actual color produced by the
reagents for each drug may vary depending on many factors: the
concentration of the drug, whether the drug is in salt or free base
form, which salt form is present, any additional diluents or
contaminants present in the sample, the color discrimination of the
analyst and the conditions under which the test is preformed. . . For
example, cobalt thiocyanate is used to detect cocaine. However, many
other drugs will also react with this reagent and each analyte that
tested positive with cobalt  thiocyanante produced a strong blue color.”

In “Chemical Analysis, A Series of Monographs on Analytical Chemistry
and its Applications,” edited by P. J. Elving, J.D. Winefordner, Volume
75, in the chapter entitled, “Spot Test Analysis” by Ervin Jungreis,
the author tells us that the cobalt thiocyanate spot test indicates a
positive reaction for: cocaine hydrochloride, codein phosphate,
atropine, heroin, nicotine salicylate, opium, scopolamine hydrobromide,
meperidine, methdadone hydrochloride, methylphenidate hydrochloride,
procaine hydrochloride, methapyrilene hydrochloride, and phenobarbital

In the UN Internal Drug Control Programme Bulletin, Rapid Testing
Methods of Drugs of Abuse, published in 1994, the following comments
appear under field testing techniques for cocaine:

For the cobalt thiocyanate test
: “A similar colour may occur in the
presence of other controlled (methaqualone,  phencyclidine) and
non-controlled drugs/precursors.”

There are millions upon millions of other white crystalline materials
which have not been ruled out as giving false positives with the cobalt
thiocyanate test.  For the modified cobalt thiocyanate test (Scott Test): “Only a very few
non-controlled or controlled drugs will give a similar colour

Besides being nonspecific, color tests have serious reliability
questions. For instance, one analyst might identify a color as a light
red while another analyst would record the test result as a pink.
According to the UN’s Rapid Testing Methods of Drugs of Abuse: “Colors
formed by the test reagents should be compared with a color reference
chart if possible because color evaluation by individuals is a
subjective  judgment and can lead to misinterpretation of results.” The
Scientific Working Group for the Analysis of Seized Drugs’ Quality
Assurance/Validation of Analytical Methods agrees with the UN on this
point: “Since the results of color tests are detected visually, care
must be taken that the analyst be thoroughly tested for the visual
ability to detect very slight color changes.”

In 1982, a United States Army forensic chemist had this to say of color
field tests:

‘Field tests were designed to assist law enforcement agencies in drug
investigations. They are simple and quick procedures for testing
materials suspected of containing drugs which help the agent determine
if a substance  requires additional analysis by forensic laboratory
personnel. Field tests were never intended to be used as a positive
method of drug identification.’

He later stated in the same report:
‘In summary, field tests are not confirmatory for drugs. They were
never intended to be confirmatory nor should they be used as such in
courts-martial or elimination boards. A laboratory analysis by a
trained forensic chemist in [sic] required for positive identification
of any drug. As a footnote, twenty to thirty percent of all substances
initially field tested positive for a drug and subsequently submitted
to this laboratory for analysis are devoid of any drugs or contain a
drug different than the one indicated by the field test.’

In December 2006, Judge William Alsup, in U.S. v. Diaz, allowed into
evidence the cobalt thiocyanate color test claiming it was a specific
test and ignoring that the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) does
not use color reference charts or test its analysts’ visual acuity.
Echoing Judge Amato, Alsup decreed that: "Despite the many hundreds of
thousands of drug convictions in the criminal justice system in
America, there has not been a single documented false-positive
identification of marijuana or cocaine when the methods (which include
the cobalt thiocyanate test) used by the SFPD Crime Lab are applied by
trained, competent analysts."

All the forensic evidence admitted by Alsup in this case was based on
nonspecific drug tests and conclusory assertions and reports. For
instance, one report indicated that (1) the tests performed on the
sample were “Cla-bl, X2-B1, X3-B3,” (2) the sample weighed “8.50 g.
gross,” and (3) the result was “cocaine base.” That was it except for a
key to the abbreviations. As Alsup admitted: “They did not, as the
peer-review literature recommends, require the analyst to describe with
specificity the crystals observed or the botanical features observed.”
Yet he ruled that this deficiency did not matter, adding that “the fact
that the worksheets did not contain documentation of the precise
observations of the analyst does not mean the analyst did not perform
the tests or actually observe the crystal shapes or botanical
features.”  In fact, in 1995, it was discovered that SFPD drug analyst
Allison Lancaster had been filing these conclusory reports for years
without performing any tests. Moreover, conclusory reports do not allow
defense experts the opportunity to check whether the analyst performed
the tests correctly.

Alsup suggested he was on shaky grounds in this regard. “Although more
detailed documentation would be preferable,” he wrote, “the mere fact
that the analysts’ reports are conclusory is not a basis for exclusion
under Daubert. As the Supreme Court has explained, ‘[v]igorous
cross-examination, presentation of contrary evidence, and careful
instruction on the burden of proof are the traditional and appropriate
means of attacking shaky but admissible evidence.’”

Professor Edward Imwinkelried has written that: “It is not only
unnecessary for the courts to accept conclusory drug identifications
based on nonspecific tests, it is also unwise for them to do so. The
essence of the scientific method is formulating hypotheses and
conducting experiments to verify or disprove the hypotheses. A
proposition does not become a scientific fact merely because someone
with impressive academic credentials asserts it is a fact. Testimony
should not be treated as an expert, scientific opinion without a truly
scientific basis, such as experimentation. Conclusory drug
identification testimony is antithetical and offensive to the
scientific tradition, and courts should not allow ipse dixit to
masquerade as scientific testimony.

“. . . It would eviscerate the Jackson standard to sustain a conclusory
drug identification in the teeth of the judicially noticeable fact that
every test used to identify the substance is nonspecific. Even more
importantly, sustaining such drug identifications places a judicial
imprimatur on testimony that cannot justifiably be labeled scientific.
The rejection of such identifications is necessitated not only by due
process but also by the simple demands of intellectual honesty. After
Jackson, sustaining conclusory, nonspecific drug identification
evidence is both bad science and bad law.”

In a 1983 law review article, Stephen G. Thompson observed that:
"Modern criminal justice is premised upon the requirement that a
criminal defendant be proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt before
punishment be meted out. The standard of proof is severe; its severity
is based upon a collective societal judgment that the risk of error be
borne by the state. As fundamental and unquestionable as this principle
may seem, it is frequently tested when the interests of society appear
urgent, immediate, and identifiable. In these instances, society often
creates policies and systems which threaten the presumption of

As a result of the perceived urgency of the Drug War, certain drug
testing is a good example of the use of forensic evidence that in
effect routinely deprives suspects and defendants of the presumption of
innocence and results in wrongful prosecutions and convictions as well
as unwarranted guilty pleas. The reason for this is that the most
commonly used drug tests as now employed do not accurately reflect the
true or actual identity of the evidentiary substance, i. e. they do not
detect. They do not prove the presence of an illegal drug, certainly
not beyond a reasonable doubt. 


USA v Hermanek, 289 F. 3d 1076 (9th Cir. 2002)

Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc, 509 U.S. 579, 593-94 (1993)
Kumho Tire v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 152 (1999)

Asashi Newspaper, Feb 7, 2004

 J.D. Prall  An Additional Screening Test for Cocaine, Microgram 8
(1975) 130-134

M. Ishiguro, S. Inde, M. Ochiai, S. Nanba  Screening of Cocaine by
Color Test. Report Central Custom's Lab, 27 (1987) 135-145

S. K. Lorch  Specificity Problem with the Cocaine-Specific Field Test,
and its Solution, Microgram 7 (1974) 100-101

 S.K. Lorch  Specificity Problem with the Cocaine-Specific Field Test.
II. Non-phenothiazine False Positives and the Separation of
Phencyclidine-promazine Combinations. Microgram 7 (1974) 129-130

 F.W. Grant  A Simple Field Test for Cocaine not Relying on Cobalt
Thiocyanate,  Microgram 8 (1975) 10-11

Y. Tsumura, T. Mitome, and S. Kimoto  False Positives and False
Negatives with a Cocaine-specific Field Test and Modification of Test
Protocol to Reduce False Decision, J. Forensic Science International,
155, (2005) 158-164

G.R. Nakamur
a  Forensic Aspects of  Cystolith Hairs of Cannabis and
Other Plants Journal of the AOAC, Vol.52, (1969) 5

J.J. Thornton and G.R Nakamura  The Identification of Marijuana, J. of
Forensic Science Society, V.12, (1972) 461

Chemical and Physiological Identification of Indian Hemp, 2(3), UN
Bulletin on Narcotics,  (1950) 30

 Methods for the Identification of Cannabis, UN Secretariat,
ST/SOA/SER.S/1 (1960-Addendum, June 1971) 463

Frederick W. Fochtman and  Charles L. Witek  A Note on the
Duquenois-Levine Test for Marijuana, Clinical Toxicology, 4 (2), (June
1971) 287-289

Marc G. Kurtzman, Dwight S. Fullerton and Michael O. Mcguire "Winning
Strategies for Defense of Marijuana Cases: Chemical and Botanical
Issues"  Journal of Criminal Defense Vol. 1 (1975) 487 

 Dharir Tuck and A. Forney, A Simple Chemical Method to Identify
Marijuana 14 J Forensic Science  (1969) 389

C.G. Pitt, R.W. Hemdron, and R.S.Hsia  The Specificity of the Duquenois
Color Test for Marijuana and Hashish, Journal of Forensic Science, V.
17, No. 4 (1972) 693

Michael  J. Saks and Jonathan J. Koehler The Coming Paradigm Shift in
Forensic Identification Science, Science,  309 (August 2005) 892

Edward J. Imwinkelried  Reopening the Pandora’s Box of the Legal
Sufficiency of Drug Iden
tification Evidence, Kentucky Law Journal, 73
Ky. L.J.1 (1984)

Jackson v. Virginia 443 U.S. 307 (1979)

Peter B. Baker and Geoffrey F. Phillips The Forensic Analysis of Drugs
of Abuse: A Review, The Analyst, Vol. 108 No. 1288, July 1983

Carol L. O’Neal, Dennis J. Crouch, Alim A. Fatah Validation of Twelve
Chemical Spot Tests for the Detection of Drugs of Abuse, Forensic
Science International, 109 (2000), 189-201.

E.G.C. Clarke (Ed.), Isolation and Identification of Drugs, The
Pharmaceutical Press, London, UK, 1969

F. Feigl, in Spot Tests in Inorganic Analysis, Elsevier Publishing Co.,
New York, 1958



Green Scare: Update

compiled by Jane Zara

Excerpted from: COMMENTARY: Green Scare State Terrorism by Stephen Lendman,

On November 27, 2006, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) amended the 1992 act and became law with very harsh provisions. Its language is broad and vague, but it criminalizes First Amendment activities that advocate for animal rights like peaceful protests, leafleting, undercover investigations, whistleblowing and boycotts.

The new law updates the earlier act with penalties far exceeding comparable offenses under other laws. It also goes much further. It allows expanded surveillance of animal rights organizations, including criminal wiretapping, and makes it easier for a court to find probable cause for the vague crime of economic damage or disruption than for one requiring hard evidence that a person or group plans to commit these acts.

The bill exempts "lawful public, governmental or business reaction to the disclosure of information about an animal enterprise," but that only applies to economic disruption claims, not damage, and makes it hard to distinguish between the two.

It also: expands the kinds of facilities covered by adding ones that use or sell animals and animal products; covers any person, entity or organization connected to an animal enterprise; applies to any form of advocacy; criminalizes threatening conduct and protected speech as well as communication with anyone engaging in these practices; protects corporate animal abusers with a vested interest in silencing dissent; and targets any form of civil disobedience or protest activity and designates animal advocates as terrorists even when they cause no physical harm; in addition, the bill's language is so broad and vague (by design), it's hard to know the difference between legal and illegal behavior; it's an act of green scare state terrorism that, in fact, can be used against anyone.

Activists equate it to legislation from earlier Red Scare periods after WW I and II when the government used various schemes to incite fear, sanction witch hunt prosecutions, and win widespread public approval for them. The term may first have been used in 2002 and refers to legal and extralegal government actions against animal liberation and environmental activists. The Spirit of Freedom prisoner support network defines it as "tactics the government and (their enforcement agencies use) to attack the ELF/ALF (Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front) and specifically those who publicly support them."

The term also refers to the 2005 arrests, indictments and convictions from the FBI's Operation Backfire against alleged ELF/ALF activists. It charged them with damaging property, conspiracy, arson and using destructive devices.

The Operation was the FBI's code name for its ten-year domestic "war on terrorism" that's in fact a war on dissent. It resulted in 17 Pacific Northwest arson indictments with evidence that was very suspect. It came from a heroin-addicted self-professed serial arsonist whose former girl friend mentioned him in a grand jury proceeding. On December 7, 2005, it culminated when federal and local law enforcement agents began the largest-ever roundup of alleged environmental and animal liberation activists. Seven arrests were made in four states, others got grand jury subpoenas, and people seized were charged with various acts of destroying property as part of ELF and ALF efforts.

Those arrested faced potential unprecedented sentences for non-violent acts from which no one was harmed. In some cases, they could be mandatory 30-year periods and in others life if found guilty on all counts. That compares to a median sentence of five years for arson.

With that as a threat, all but four defendants testified against the others in return for leniency. The remaining four struck plea bargains to admit responsibility but incriminate no one else. At sentencing in June 2007, the presiding judge was harsh. He included Terrorism Enhancements (TE) that are used when the justice department decides a crime aimed to influence or coerce government policy. It means sentences may be longer, and the Bureau of Prisons gets greater latitude in assigning prisoners that may extend to "supermax" facilities for the most violent offenders.

In this case, sentences ranged from three years and one month to 13 years with most defendants getting added TEs. In addition, on October 26, 2007, FBI informant and serial arsonist Jacob Ferguson pleaded guilty to one count of arson and an additional count of attempted arson. According to his plea bargain, he won't be charged for his other offenses. Further, he's required to make no restitution, his formal sentencing keeps being postponed, but prosecutors recommend he spend no time in prison, receive no fines, and be able to keep the $50,000 or more he was paid for cooperating.

Examples of Witch Hunt Convictions

Many can be cited, but Jeff Luers' case is typical. In June 2001, he was sentenced to 22 years, eight months for burning three SUVs to raise awareness of global warming and how these gas-guzzlers contribute to it. No one was hurt, $40,000 in damages resulted, and the vehicles were refurbished and subsequently sold. Jeff is a political prisoner, and his sentence exceeds that for murder, kidnapping and rape under Oregon law where he resides. He appealed in January 2002, the hearing was held in November 2005, and on February 14, 2007 the Appeals Court remanded his case to the Circuit Court for resentencing. The case was heard on February 28, 2008 after which his sentence was reduced to 10 years.

Josh Harper is another political prisoner who committed no crime. He's an activist believer in animal liberation, preserving the wilderness, and participated in human freedom projects for over 10 years. In 1997, he co-created Breaking Free Video magazine and went on speaking tours in 1999. He also sabotaged a whale hunt, defied grand juries, and contributed to confrontational protest campaigns. It made him a target and got him indicted for violating the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA).

Evidence at his trial was mostly from two of his speeches in 2001 and 2002. He spoke about already-committed political sabotage acts as well as European anti-vivisection campaigns he supported. He also ended one speech by demonstrating how to participate in a form of electronic civil disobedience called "black faxing" that involves sending multiple black paper sheets through an opponent's fax machine. It got him arrested, charged and convicted.

He was one of six animal rights activists in the so-called SHAC 7 (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty) case. Charges against one of the original 7 were dropped. SHAC is an international animal rights campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) - one of the world's largest contract research organizations, UK based, and operating on three continents. It's also Europe's largest contract animal-testing laboratory and uses around 75,000 animals each year in its operations.

UK-based activists established SHAC in 1999 and successfully closed down two animal-testing operations in their country. It's now a worldwide campaign, the first of its kind, and it operates in the UK, US, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy as well as many other countries. It calls its campaign "innovative" and states it doesn't "encourage or incite illegal activity."

On March 2, 2006, Harper and his co-defendants were charged and convicted of conspiracy to violate AETA (and several other charges) and got sentences of from four to six years. The case was an appalling miscarriage of justice because of violation of the defendants' First Amendment rights, which AETA effectively repealed for these activists. The defendants weren't charged with violent or threatening acts. Instead, the case was based on the notion that animal rights organizers are responsible for actions others take that the prosecution equated to a global conspiracy.

Briana Waters is another example of gross injustice. She's an innocent woman charged and convicted. On March 30, 2006, she was arrested and accused of being a lookout in connection with an alleged 2001 arson at the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture. Waters is a California resident, violin teacher and mother of a young child. She was indicted, then reindicted with other defendants on May 10 on charges that included using a destructive device that carries a mandatory 30 year sentence.  Her case also featured circumstantial evidence, including a folder containing radical pamphlets with a note on the cover from Waters to one of the informants. She testified that she didn't write them or subscribe to their views. The prosecution claimed otherwise. Her defense also argued that Waters knew nothing about the materials, they were substituted for ones she put in the folder, and her fingerprints weren't on the ones [used for evidence].

Excerpted from What is the GreenScare?

The term Green Scare, alluding to the Red Scare of the 1940s and ’50s, refers to legal and extralegal actions taken by the U.S. government against the “radical” environmentalist movement. Like the Red Scare, the Green Scare uses new laws (1 ) and new arms of the state (2 ) to harshly punish a few individuals in order to repress a widespread social impulse. It is a strategy that has been used before: attack the margins of a group or movement as a way to limit the parameters of dissent more generally.

The War on Dissent
In December 2005, government agents carried out a nationwide sweep of arrests, charging fourteen individuals with direct actions in the Pacific Northwest as part of the FBI’s “Operation Backfire…”

According to journalist Will Potter, “Corporations and the politicians that represent them have been on a coordinated campaign to silence dissent by branding anyone who stands in their way a ‘terrorist.’ They’ve taken a few pages from the Red Scare playbook and a few from the ‘with us or against us’ playbook of the War on Terror.” …The state has attached the word “terror” to acts of sabotage and civil disobedience in an effort to frighten environmental and animal advocacy activists, as well as anyone who may agree with their motivations or have sympathy with them. In the pursuit of this repressive agenda, the state has used the worst Patriot Act-sanctioned surveillance powers in these cases. Dozens of people have been subpoenaed to appear before Grand Juries. The government has paid its informants with large amounts of cash and drugs. Undercover agent provocateurs have infiltrated activists’ bedrooms and lives. And we still have seen only the shadows of the government’s post-9/11 program of surveillance and repression.

Taking A Principled Stand
Though many people face charges in “Green Scare” cases (4 ), this pamphlet focuses on four individuals who have taken a principled stand and chosen not to cooperate with the prosecution. Joyanna Zacher, Jonathan Paul, Daniel McGowan and Nathan Block were among the fourteen people rounded up during the “Operation Backfire” arrests. This massive operation, targeting what the state claims to be “eco-terrorism,” is the centerpiece of the Bush Administration’s assault on domestic dissent, executed under the guise of “fighting terrorists.” The acts of “terrorism” that these defendants have been accused of are actually acts of sabotage, which are attacks against property, not people. Out of the deepest concern for life, the individuals involved took care to ensure that no people were harmed. Buildings and cars were burned, and wild horses were set free.
     Because the state has attached the word “terrorism” to these charges, the defendants are facing much longer sentences than they would otherwise serve for property destruction. Prosecutors threatened some defendants with life in prison for their ethically-motivated acts. With the threat of such lengthy sentences hanging over their heads, some individuals admitted guilt immediately after their arrests and proceeded to provide information to the government. Others held out longer but eventually folded as well. In order to receive reduced sentences, part of their plea agreement mandated that they must cooperate with the state in ongoing investigations against the environmental movement for the rest of their lives. This has profoundly saddened and angered much of the surrounding community…
(1 ) The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) passed congress and was signed into law on November 27th by President Bush. This law plays off the fears of 9/11 by labeling activists as terrorists. Under the new law, animal rights activists have faced massive fines and serious jail time for involvement in non-violent civil disobedience.
(2 ) The Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies, notably the Department of Homeland Security and local law enforcement. On April 28, 2005, Portland, OR became the first city in the nation to withdraw from a JTTF. The American Civil Liberties Union and other civil liberties groups have expressed concerns over JTTF tactics, including infiltration of activist peace groups under assumed names. Such activities were restricted by regulations put in place after the Church Commission hearings in the 1970s, which exposed politically motivated spying and obstruction of first amendment rights by the COINTELPRO division. However, the Justice Department eliminated these regulations in 2002, leading many to view the JTTF as direct threat to civil liberties. JTTFs engage in surveillance, electronic monitoring, source development and interviews in their pursuits. Prior to September 11, 2001, the United States had 35 JTTFs. Shortly after the attacks on September 11, FBI Director Robert Mueller instructed all FBI field offices to establish formal terrorism task forces. There are now 100 Joint Terrorism Task Forces nationwide, including at least one at each of the FBI Field Offices.

Excerpted from: Informant Games The Disturbing GreenScare Case of Briana Waters, By BEN ROSENFELD Tacoma, Washington.

On February 11, trial begins in the federal government's case against Briana Waters. Ms. Waters is accused of conspiring to set fire to the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture in 2001. Specifically, the government accuses Ms. Waters of acting as a lookout. The Earth Liberation Front claimed responsibility for the fire, along with another one the same day, at the Jefferson Poplar Farms in Clatskanie, Oregon, saying that the poplar research posed "an ecological nightmare" for the diversity of native forests. Ms. Waters, a violin teacher and 32-year-old mother of a little girl, steadfastly maintains her innocence. Federal sentences for arson, including those motivated by greed, insurance fraud, and even racial hatred, typically fall within the 5-7 year range. But if convicted of both counts, Ms. Waters faces a mandatory minimum 35 years behind bars (five on the arson charge, and 30 for conspiring to use a destructive device)…

The government has no physical or even direct evidence against Ms. Waters. It's "case" rests entirely on the testimony of two informants, Jennifer Kolar and Lacey Phillabaum, who confessed to participating in the University of Washington arson, and who will receive leniency (most likely, 3-7 year sentences) in exchange for their testimony…

It is well known in the informant game that informants must trade new names for favors, not names the government already has. Inevitably, this leads to the risk that informants will implicate innocent people. In addition, police can easily mold the information they receive from informants into what they want to hear. According to former FBI agent Jack Ryan, who was fired for refusing to go along with the FBI's counterintelligence program against the Plowshares Movement in the 1980s, the FBI would simply make up the information it wanted to hear and put it in the mouths of informants, real or fictitious…

Briana Waters is a victim of the "Green Scare" ­ the federal government's hysterical, post-911 witch-hunt against environmental activists, and its overzealous charging tendencies. Shortly after the government revealed the indictment, former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales proclaimed Ms. Waters guilty in the media, prejudging the case for the jury, and demonstrating that the government is more concerned with public relations and declaring victory than with truth or fairness.  For more information, or to make donations to her defense, visit

The first trial of Operation Backfire has concluded and the defendant, Briana Waters has been convicted on two counts of arson in relation to the fire at the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture. The jury was hung about an Incendiary Device charge that would have carried a mandatory minimum of 30 years if convicted. She now faces up to ten years in prison. She is currently awaiting a detention hearing to see if she can be released until her sentencing. She is currently being held in Seattle. For updates, see the Olympia Civil Liberties ResourceBriana Waters was sentenced on June 19th to Six Years in prison.


Marie Mason, currently charged with two acts of property destruction in 1999 and 2000, has pled not guilty and is currently preparing for trial while out on bail. Frank Ambrose, one of four arrested in the midwest accused of an action at Michigan State University in 1999 has entered a guilty plea and has been cooperating with federal agents since a raid on his house in 2007. He has given information concerning all charged and uncharged activity and has agreed to testify against codefendants Marie Mason, Aren Burthwick, and Stephanie Fultz in addition to giving names of 15 alleged ELF members.  For updates, check Ambrose's unredacted plea agreement can be found here and the search warrant for Marie Mason can be found here


Excerpted from: The Green Scare, by John Vidal, The Guardian on Thursday April 03 2008 on p4 of the Comment & features section.

Early last month five large half-built houses on the "Street of Dreams", an opulent development in the quiet Washington state suburb of Woodinville near Seattle, caught fire. Three buildings were gutted and two were seriously smoke-damaged to the tune of about $7m. The fire brigades took six hours to put the fires out, but no one was hurt.

These were no ordinary houses. Set in an expensive UK green belt-style "rural cluster development" area (RCD), they were locally unpopular $2m, 4,500 sq ft buildings, dubbed "McMonsters". Moreover, they were billed as "green", built to tick every box of the well-heeled ethically conscious families they were aimed at: formaldehyde-free materials, energy-efficient appliances, pervious pavements, extra insulation, recycled wood for windows and doors.

It did not need a great detective to tell that this was arson. A large spray-painted bedsheet left at the scene read: "Built green? Nope black. McMansions in RCDs r not green." It was signed "Elf" - the Earth Liberation Front.

So whodunnit? The Seattle Joint Terrorism Task Force, working with the FBI and the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said this week that they were indeed working on the theory that it was "eco-terrorism", carried out by a cell of environmentalists using the catch-all title of the Earth Liberation Front…

…According to the FBI, "eco-terrorism", or "ecotage", is now the number one domestic terrorism threat in the US, greater than that of rightwing extremists, anti-abortion groups and animal rights organisations, and on a par with al-Qaida. The US building industry, rightwing political groups and the mainstream media all leapt to condemn the ELF after the arson. "We've seen this grow over the years and it's very scary," said Brian Minnich of the Building Industry Association of Washington, which offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the arsonists.

"It tends to be done by young, intelligent people," says FBI special agent Robbie Burroughs. "There is nothing to suggest that [the Street of Dreams arson attack] is anything else than terrorism."

But the jury on the McMansions arson is very much out. Instead of striking fear into the heart of middle America, the incident has revealed growing civil liberty fears about the US government's redefinition of terrorism, and a breakdown of trust in the authorities. Although rightwing commentators and libertarian bloggers have used the attack as ammunition in their ideological war against environmentalists and the left, few others think it is so simple. The more anyone looks into the arson, the more they suspect that it has probably got more to do with fraud or political smearing and dirty tricks than with terrorism.

Letter writers to the Seattle press and websites like and Grist say it is suspicious that the attack on the McMansions should take place in the middle of America's most serious downturn in the housing market in 30 years, with a recession looming and properties almost impossible to sell. People are deliberately setting fire to their own properties to escape mortgage misery, they say, and only one of the houses on the Street of Dreams is said to have been sold.

Mainstream greens point out that both the fossil fuel industries and US rightwing groups like the "Wise Use movement" have a long history of trying to discredit environmentalists. The advice given to the FBI from nearly every quarter has been: "Follow the money" - implying that the arson was possibly insurance-related. The FBI say it has found nothing to suggest this.

…"It just doesn't make sense. Why should [environmentalists] burn down green homes and cause even more emissions?" asks John Hunt, a Sierra Club member from Seattle.

"We all know that intelligence agencies regularly plant stories to discredit people that the White House doesn't like," says another commentator. "Don't be surprised if the ranks of domestic terrorists swell to include vocal green activists as the election accelerates." It has also been pointed out that one dirty trick of the fossil fuel industries in the past 20 years has been to sow the seeds of doubt with fake groups and discrediting of enemies.

…[T]he case for the McMansion fires being ecotage is weak, because this form of radical protest has all but died out. While animal rights extremism has continued, in the past seven years, the FBI admits, there have been only a handful of attacks on property that could have been committed by environmentalists.

There are currently seven unsolved cases on the FBI's books in the US north-west, considered the centre of ELF activities. Two bear the same hallmarks as the McMansion attack: in April 2005, a garage close to Seattle was torched and a similar crude message scrawled on a sheet: "Where Are All The Trees? Burn, Rapist, Burn," it said. A year later, a half-built 9,600 sq ft, $3m house under construction was gutted by fire and a similar message was sprayed on a sheet and draped across the front gate to the house.

Moreover, instead of defending attacks on property as legitimate targets, the ELF has gone silent. Their website has for six or more years been only sporadically updated, no "communiques" have been issued and the usual ELF defence that attacks on property as opposed to people are legitimate have not been used.

"No one will talk on behalf of anyone remotely linked to ecotage," said one man who asked to remain anonymous this week. "It's off the agenda." The website, clearly being monitored by the authorities, does not respond to emails.

…The attack on the twin towers led directly to the draconian Patriot Act, which created a new category of domestic terrorism and allowed the FBI to expand its domestic and international powers. Many actions previously considered vandalism (and attracting sentences of two to four years) could now be classed as major acts of terror, and life sentences could be passed.

The new targeting of environmentalists and what some say is a hysterical exaggeration of the seriousness of eco-terrorism is widely seen as the Bush administration's payback for the humiliation piled on the US and its corporations by environmentalists at the Seattle World Trade Organisation talks in 1999. The national guard had to be called out, the talks were abandoned and, as tear gas drifted around the city, US policies were ridiculed around the world.

The new terror laws have also allowed the FBI and federal government to target people it had given up on years before and use new surveillance methods. One person caught up in what has become known as "the Green Scare", and whose case may provide a partial answer to the riddle of the Street of Dreams, is 32-year-old violin teacher Briana Waters, now in Oregon state prison a few hundred miles south of Seattle.

According to two women who testified against her in return for dramatically reduced sentences, this mild-mannered, pacifist tree-sitter with a young child and no previous convictions hid in shrubbery by the University of Washington's GM tree laboratory back in 1999 while others set fire to it. Last month she was in court and testified that she wasn't even in Seattle that night, but she was found guilty of arson and will now receive a mandatory sentence of up to 20 years.

Remarkably, the attack on the McMansions happened on the same day that Waters' trial was beginning in Oregon. It also just happened that the federal prosecutors immediately and very publicly linked her case to the arson. Depending on who you believe, the attack either worked in the interests of the government, which secured a controversial conviction, or it was a warning shot by other ELF groups that they would not be intimidated by show trials.

Waters is part of what US civil liberty groups are calling an extraordinary witch-hunt being conducted against green activists and animal rights groups, who are being accused of terrorism for arson offences committed before 2001. Most, says Lauren Regan, a lawyer with the Civil Liberties Defence Centre in Eugene, Oregon, have been indicted on the testimony of one man, a former ELF cell leader and self-confessed heroin addict called Jake Ferguson, who has admitted being part of 18 arson attacks linked to the Animal and Earth Liberation Fronts between 1997 and 2001. In return for up to $100,000 of state money, says Regan, Ferguson was wired up by the FBI in 2003 to entrap his co-conspirators.

His testimony and activities are said to have led to a cascade of charges levelled at activists around the US. "The government built its case against Waters on the testimony of two informants, and several pieces of circumstantial evidence. The defence argued that the informants - both from relatively wealthy families - pleaded guilty to a minor felony charge and accused her in order to avoid 35-year prison sentences they were threatened with," she says. Of the four others linked to the same firebombing, one is on the run, and another recently died in prison.

According to many, the US is now in the middle of a "Green Scare" akin to the "Red Scare" of the 1950s, when senator Joseph McCarthy launched his infamous communist witch-hunt. Environmental and animal rights activists are being targeted, it is believed, not because they are dangerous, but because in the wake of 9/11 the government needs scapegoats beyond Muslims, and people - often young, white and middle-class - with defined ideologies who target corporate America are easy and attractive game.

But the venom with which the government has pursued its dissenters has shocked people well beyond the green movement. Regan and other civil libertarians accuse it of using illegal tactics, threatening people with hundreds of years in prison for their roles in petty arsons, infiltrating groups, massive surveillance, hiring provocateurs, and handing out sentences of 20 years or more for offences that in other times would bring a maximum of two to four years. The campaign against the environmentalists has been marked by government vindictiveness and prosecution misconduct, it is alleged.

"Environmental groups are being harassed, infiltrated and spied on by the FBI and the police as never before," Regan says. "Everyone who is an activist is now a target. Big Brother is here. The government has hounded the activist community, overcharged individuals with federal firearms [laws] applying to bombs and missiles, and branded them as terrorists, even though none of the events resulted in a single injury."

Two weeks ago, four people were charged with a 1999 arson at Michigan State University when a federally funded GM research lab was attacked. The FBI immediately held a press conference labelling the culprits terrorists…

The wave of prosecutions has already resulted in draconian sentences and is likely to lead to more. Six activists were each given a six-year prison sentence for running a website that only posted information about vandalism attacks, without connecting themselves to the acts in any way. One man, Jeff Luers, who set fire to three cars in Oregon to bring attention to gas-guzzlers' contribution to global warming, was given an extraordinary 22 years, eight months.

"A lot of people are scared and intimidated right now," said Luers in an interview in 2006. "They're either going to fall apart, or they're going to come together and show that, no matter how many arrests are made or how hard the government tries to crack down on dissent, the people aren't going to be quiet."

Civil liberty groups expect the green scare to worsen. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act now raises any attacks against the profits of any animal-based industry to the level of terrorism, and a little-known bill making its way through US Congress with virtually no debate is expected to lead to a new crackdown on any dissident activity, under the guise of fighting terrorism.

The Orwellian-sounding Violent Radicalisation and Home-Grown Terrorism Prevention Act, passed by an overwhelming 400-6 vote last month, will soon be considered by the Senate. Rather than seeking to criminalise "extremist" acts, it targets beliefs, or what many people are calling "thoughtcrimes".

"It proposes initiatives to intercede before radicalised individuals turn violent. It could herald far more intrusive surveillance techniques, without warrants, and has the potential to criminalise ideas and not actions. It could mean penalties for a stance rather than a criminal act," the American Civil Liberties Union and the Centre for Constitutional Rights have jointly said.

For Indictee and Political Prisoner Contact Information, see  

Approached by federal agents to appear at a grand jury or being harrassed for environmental activism? Don't say a word and call the National Lawyers Guild hotline number to talk to a lawyer and get information on your rights. The number is 1-888-NLG-ECOLAW.  The National Lawyers Guild has established a hotline,
888-NLG-ECOLAW, for individuals arrested or subpoenaed for offenses related to environmental or animal activism.

Where to Learn More About the Green Scare:
ELP News:
Civil Liberties Defense Center:
Break the Chains:
Daniel McGowan:
Briana Waters:
Jeff Luers:
Rod Coronado:
Eric McDavid:
Tre Arrow:

SHAC 7 Defendants
Jake Conroy:
Lauren Gazzola:
Josh Harper:
Andy Stepanian:
Kevin Kjonaas:
Darius Fullmer:


Syringe Exchange Funding Back in DC!
compiled by Jane Zara

State syringe exchange programs providing clean needles to drug users and others to stop the spread of HIV are not allowed to use federal funds. Due to this ban, Washington, D.C. was the only city in the nation forbidden by federal law to use local funds for syringe exchange. But the ban on city funding for syringe exchange programs in Washington, D.C. was lifted for 2008. Freed from a nearly decade-long congressional ban on D.C. financing of needle exchange, Fenty promptly responded with a $650,000 investment by the second day of 2008. Below are updates and article excerpts, and links to local groups that provide syringe and needle exchanges, along with much needed wrap-around services for hard-to-reach populations.
Please go to syringe

Excerpted from: Fighting America's fastest-growing AIDS problem, in Washington, D.C. Ian Urbina, May 29, 2007, International Herald Tribune: The Global Edition of the New York Times):

Washington, DC was the only city in the country barred by federal law from using local tax money to finance needle exchange programs. It is also the city with the fastest-growing number of new AIDS cases.

In 1988, Congress banned the use of federal money for needle exchange programs, though it included an exception allowing the president to waive the federal ban if a review by the surgeon general or the secretary of health and human services determined that syringe exchange programs had been proved effective and did not increase drug use.  …A number of federal studies found that such programs did not increase drug use, and in 1998 Donna Shalala, then secretary of health and human services, concluded, "A meticulous scientific review has now proven that needle exchange programs can reduce the transmission of HIV and save lives without losing ground in the battle against illegal drugs."  …But President Bill Clinton did not remove the ban on syringe exchange financing, and in 1998 Congress reinforced the ban by removing the executive waiver.

Excerpted from Mikel Chavers: 


State syringe exchange programs that provide clean needles to drug users and others to stop the spread of HIV are not allowed to use federal funds. Since 1988, the federal government has prohibited Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding to be used for syringe exchange programs.

And because of that, states that allow the syringe exchange programs—and states that even fund them—are struggling with funding in some cases with the absence of federal dollars and also federal policy support for the idea.

The language that keeps federal funds from syringe exchange is actually in the labor bill, written as a rider. Besides causing some state syringe exchange programs to be crunched for funds, the federal ban on CDC funding means “no politician wants to pick it up,” explained Robert Childs, public health operations manager for New York City’s Positive Health Project. That syringe exchange includes an impressive list of services in addition to the needle swap housed in the building near Times Square.

After President Bush signed a fiscal year 2008 omnibus spending bill—H.R. 2764, the Consolidated Appropriations Act—a ban was lifted on city funding for syringe exchange programs in Washington, D.C. Since 1999, Washington, D.C., was the only city in the nation forbidden by federal law to use local funds for syringe exchange.


Nine Year DC Syringe Exchange Ban Overturned:

Excerpts from: Washington, D.C. Local Funds Allowed to Support Syringe Exchange Programs, June 28, 2007; AIDS Action, 1730 M Street NW, Suite 611, Washington, D.C. Ph(202) 530-8030 Washington, DC

[T]he House of Representatives passed the first Financial Services Appropriations bill did not contain a rider forbidding Washington, D.C. from spending local government funds on District syringe exchange programs since 1998.  The District, along with the rest of the nation, will continue to be forbidden from spending Federal funding on syringe exchange programs. 

In 2005, Washington, DC had the highest rate of AIDS cases in the country, 128.4 per 100,000 vs. 19.7 per 100,000, nationally - nearly 1 out of every 50 residents has AIDS, and it is estimated that nearly 1 out of every 20 is infected with HIV.  In Washington, DC, injection drug use is directly responsible for 35% of the all AIDS cases and 54% of AIDS cases in women since the beginning of the epidemic. 

Local D.C. Lawmakers Could Help Shelve the Morality Debate About Needle-Exchange Programs, By Andrew Green, AlterNet. Posted March 11, 2008.

Two days into 2008, Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty called a press conference to reintroduce local funding for needle-exchange programs. Freed from a nearly decade-long congressional ban on D.C. financing of needle exchange, Fenty responded with a $650,000 investment.

"We know that [needle exchange] is a best practice," Fenty said during his remarks. "Here in Washington, D.C., with one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates anywhere," funding for needle-exchange programming "goes right where the rubber meets the road on this very serious health crisis."

But D.C. health officials and needle-exchange advocates aren't content to just reintroduce needle exchange. They want to reconceptualize it.

Rather than engaging in the ethical go-round over whether government-funded needle exchange officially, if tacitly, sanctions illegal injection drug use, local advocates are sticking to the scientifically proven bottom line: Needle exchange reduces the transmission of HIV/AIDS without increasing injection-drug use.

They're more interested in talking, instead, about what needle exchange can become. To wit, successful needle exchange sites provide an obvious bridge to a range of holistic treatment and care options for an otherwise isolated population.

The standard conception of needle exchange as a place, either mobile or concrete, to exchange used, potentially infected needles for new, clean syringes is incomplete. A comprehensive needle-exchange site can offer a host of services to historically underserved populations of injection drug users: substance-abuse treatment, primary medical care, rapid HIV counseling and testing, mental health linkages and referrals, and information on safer sex practices.

Excerpts from PreventionWorks! 1407 S Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009 - Tel: 202.588.5580 - Fax: 202.939.7827 - Email:


History PreventionWorks! was established in October 1998 to provide needle exchange and other harm reduction services in the District of Columbia. The mission of PreventionWorks! is to curb the spread of HIV and other blood-borne diseases among injecting and other drug users, their sexual partners, and newborn children.

PreventionWorks! incorporated after the U.S. Congress passed legislation forbidding both the District of Columbia from using its local funds to support needle exchange services and private organizations that receive any federal funds from operating a needle exchange program, even if funded with private donations. As a result of the ban, Whitman-Walker Clinic, which had received DC government funds to operate a needle exchange program, ceased operations of its program. The law has since been changed to allow publicly funded organizations to use private funds to contribute to needle exchange.

PreventionWorks! is a harm reduction program that operates primarily via a mobile service vehicle. Our clients are served weekly at 12 needle exchange sites located near active drug strips. We also accept and service walk-in clients at our main office.


Wrap-Around Services
One-for-one needle exchange and distribution of other harm reduction tools
Condom distribution and safe-sex information/education
Drug Treatment referrals, information
Harm Reduction education/training/outreach
Overdose Prevention
Support groups
HIV testing/counseling/prevention education
HEP C referrals for testing/ prevention education/ support group

Excerpts from Moving the Needle on Syringe Exchange by James Wortman July 2, 2008:

Since the days when Bill Clinton was president, overwhelming evidence indicates that providing injection-drug users with clean syringes has a significant impact on reducing the spread of life-threatening illnesses like AIDS and hepatitis C among intravenous-drug users and their sexual partners. Studies conducted in the United States have repeatedly shown that syringe-exchange programs are powerful tools in preventing the spread of these blood-borne illnesses. In addition, it has been well established that when people access syringe-exchange programs, they are often likely to simultaneously access critical health care, information and support. They are more likely to get into care and on treatment, and find the support they need to continue both. And yet, since even before the Clinton era, federal funding restrictions, first implemented in 1988, have prevented our government from supporting needle-exchange programs. As a result, local state officials and syringe-exchange and harm-reduction organizations must scramble for resources to implement the lifesaving programs.

The ban on syringe-exchange programs has contributed to the continued rise in the number of people infected with HIV through the sharing of needles. In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 14,760 people with a risk factor related to IV-drug use received a diagnosis of AIDS or reported an HIV infection. The latest CDC figure for that group amounts to 383,000 people.

Excerpted from: Nine-Year DC Syringe Exchange Ban Overturned: Washington, D.C. Local Funds Allowed to Support Syringe Exchange Programs; Jun. 28, 2007 PR Newswire delivered by Newstex

In 2005, Washington, DC had the highest rate of AIDS cases in the country, 128.4 per 100,000 vs. 19.7 per 100,000, nationally – nearly 1 out of every 50 residents has AIDS, and it is estimated that nearly 1 out of every 20 is infected with HIV. In Washington, DC, injection drug use is directly responsible for 35% of the all AIDS cases and 54% of AIDS cases in women since the beginning of the epidemic.

The effects on the District of the ban on needle exchange manifested in: Inadequate care and referrals for a marginalized population. One of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the country (it is estimated that 1 out of 20 DC residents has HIV) The fact that sharing needles continues to be the second most common way that HIV/AIDS is transmitted in men and the number one way that it is transmitted to women.

Lifting the ban could help the district by Allowing a higher percentage of the at risk population access to prevention and care Increased outreach and treatment to a marginalized population A decrease in the sky high HIV/AIDS rates that plague the District's citizens Syringe exchange programs are one of the only ways that the marginalized population of injecting drug users gets tested.

The District has one of the worst HIV/AIDS infection rates in the country, and intravenous drug use is one of the primary modes of transmission. The city's rate of new AIDS cases was 128.4 per 100,000 people in 2005, compared with a national average of 13.7 per 100,000, according to the most recent data available from the CDC. In a city where 1 out of 50 people is infected with AIDS and an estimated 1 out of 20 has HIV, the local government is impaired by the federal and local ban in it's ability to coordinate treatment and rehabilitation programs with syringe exchange programs.

DC's needle exchange program is crucial to getting marginalized people with severe substance abuse problems into drug treatment.(2) The program estimates it refers about 50 people a month to treatment. These are people that otherwise would not be receiving treatment. Lifting the ban is integral to funding follow up with the people receiving treatment through needle exchange referrals. Every established medical concluded that needle exchange programs are essential to reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and other infectious diseases:including the National Academy of Sciences, American Medical Association, American Public Health Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and President George H.W. Bush's and President Clinton's Presidential AIDS Advisory Commissions.

Eight government reports concur that needle exchange programs do not increase drug use.(3) No reports contradict this finding. Needle exchange programs protect children by reducing the number of contaminated needles dropped on the street and reducing the number of children born with HIV/AIDS. The American Academy of Pediatrics has concluded: "Pediatricians should advocate for unencumbered access to sterile syringes and improved knowledge about decontamination of injection equipment ... . These programs should be encouraged, expanded, and linked to drug treatment and other HIV-1 risk-reduction education."

Excerpted from: 1/21/2008:

Sharon Egiebor, project manager,, As of November 2007, a total of 185 SEPs were operating in 36 states, the District of Columbia (DC), and Puerto Rico, according to unpublished data from the North American Syringe Exchange Network, a report contributor. Most are in the Mid-Atlantic-north region up to Massachusetts, on the West Coast in California, Oregon and Washington, and in the Midwest.

Experts put the number of programs at 218, saying many fail to report their activities because they are working underground. Federal funding for syringe exchange (also called needle exchange) was prohibited since 1998.   The ban has been lifter, but the practice is illegal in many states.

Syringe Exchange came on the scene in the early 1990s when evidence was beginning to show the link between rising HIV rates and intravenous drug users and their sexual partners.


The Yellow Bean Has Returned to the Public Domain!

compiled by Jane Zara

Much Ado about a Variety of Bean, Victoria Slind-Flor, The Denver Post, Business Section, June 1, 2008;

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected a Delta man's patent claims for a yellow bean that is a Latin American food staple.The patent office canceled patent 5,893,079, which was issued to Larry
M. Proctor in November 1996. Proctor is a bean and pea processor and
wholesaler with annual sales of $1 million to $10 million, according to
data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His venture with the new
bean was called Pod-ners.

Proctor claimed proprietary rights to a bean derived from a package of
dried beans he bought in Mexico in 1994 and brought to the U.S. After
the third harvest of the progeny, Proctor filed a patent application,
claiming "a new field bean variety that produces distinctly colored
yellow seed, which remain relatively unchanged by season." He called it
an "enola" bean.

The International Center for Tropical Agriculture disputed Proctor's
claims that he'd created a new variety and challenged the patent.
The center, based in Cali, Colombia, is a partnership of countries,
international and regional organizations and private foundations
supporting the work of 15 international agricultural research centers.
The challenge included evidence of 360 different yellow beans of the
same species within the center's crop-gene bank and argued that the
Mexican government released a version of the bean to the public in the
1970s and that Proctor didn't have an export permit when he brought the
beans to the U.S.

The Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences decided that the bean was
"anticipated" by a common Mexican yellow bean and denied all claims in
an April 29 decision.
     "For several years now, farmers in Mexico, the USA and elsewhere have
unnecessarily endured legal threats and intimidation for simply
planting, selling or exporting a bean that they have been growing for

Geoffrey Hawtin, the center's director general, said in a statement. After the patent was issued, Proctor claimed 6 cents royalty on every pound of yellow beans sold in the U.S., according to the center's statement. Proctor was represented by David J. Lee from Lathrop & Gage of Kansas
City, Mo. Proctor referred questions to his attorney, and Lee didn't
return an e-mailed request for comment.
The case is ex parte Pod-Ners LLC, 2007-3938, Before the Board of
Patent Appeals and Interferences, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

DNA Fingerprinting Identifies Bean in Patent Dispute, JC Davis News &
Information, May 27, 2008;

The Enola Bean Patent Reexamination Saga

13 April 1999: Larry Proctor wins US Patent No. 5,894,079, “field bean
cultivar named  enola”

15 January 2000: ETC Group denounces the enola bean patent as
technically invalid and morally unacceptable

20 December 2000: Request for Reexamination of US patent 5,894,079
(issued 13 April 1999) filed by CIAT

30 November 2001: Proctor sues 16 small bean seed companies and farmers
in Colorado for infringing his patent

02 December 2003: USPTO’s reexamination results in “Non Final”
Rejection of Patent

02 June 2004: Proctor submits 400+ page amendment to “Non Final”

14 April 2005: USPTO issues “Final Rejection” of Patent

14 October 2005: Proctor submits Request for Continued Examination of

21 December 2005: and issues another “Final Rejection” of Patent

29 April 2008: USPTO’s Board of Patent Appeals affirms the patent
examiner’s decision regarding the rejection of all standing claims in
the Patent
????? – Will Larry Proctor appeal through the U.S. Federal Court system?


Books of Interest

Plan B 3.0. by Lester Brown, 2008, New York: W W Norton. published online at:: "We need not go beyond ice melting to see that civilization is in trouble. Business-as-usual is no longer a viable option. It is time for Plan B"

Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy. by Michael Klare, 2008,Metropolitan Books, N.Y. " indispensable account of how the world's diminishing sources of energy are radically changing the international balance of power.

Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy , by Arjun Makhijani, IEER Press, Takoma Park, MD.2008. Available online at: . Makhijani applies scientific analysis to public policy issues to promote the democratization of science and a safer, healthier environment

Energy Autonomy: The economic, social and technological case for renewable energy. , by Hermann Scheer, 2007,Earthscan, London. "...[the]solution...: to make the transition to renewable sources of energy and distributed, decentralized energy generation"

The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict , by Joseph E. Stiglitz with Linda J. Bilmes, (New York: WW Norton, 2008): "From the unhealthy brew of emergency funding, multiple sets of books, and chronic underestimates of the resources required to prosecute the war, we have attempted to identify how much we have been spending - and how much we will, in the end, likely have to spend. The figure we arrive at is more than $3 trillion."

The Death of Patents , Peter Drahos ed. , 2005 Lawtext Publishing, UK: "National patent systems have stopped serving the ideal of public benefit. Instead the world is moving towards a universal patent system that will only make a few rich countries even richer."

The Bridge at the Edge of the World by James Gustav Speth. Yale U Press, 2008 "'s environmental reality is linked powerfully with other realities, including growing social inequality and neglect and the erosion of democratic governance and popular control..."

Ask Dr. Science

Dear Dr. Science, Since the death penalty is still alive and well in the U.S., I was wondering whether capital punishment could be used to execute corporations if found guilty of capital crimes. Thanks to the Supreme Court, corporate personhood has been bestowed onto corporations, staunchly supporting their 1st, 5th, 14th amendment rights, (insert excerpt of The Corporation quoting number of SC cases deciding corporate rights, versus minority rights under the 14th amendment) to name just a few. In light of the bestowing of such rights on corporate persons, can they now be subjected to capital punishment?

A Curious Subscriber


Dr. Science replies: Dear Curious,

Allotting the death penalty to "corporate persons" is a very interesting idea. You are correct that courts zealously grant sweeping personal rights to corporations. It would be interesting to see a prosecutor's office ask the court for the death penalty for a corporation in a corporate criminal case. Perhaps there can be a paper cutter, or shredder in the town square, replacing the guillotine, beheading the corporate charter, articles of incorporation, bylaws, or whatever is considered to be the body of this "person."

There are many legal struggles involving corporate crimes against humanity. See One involves a lawsuit against US oil giant ChevronTexaco for "destroying large areas of rain forest in Ecuador and contaminating local land and rivers, where the pollution is alleged to increase incidence of cancer among the local population. "The suit, brought by thousands of residents near the company's former oil fields, alleges ChevronTexaco dumped roughly 18.5 billion gallons of highly toxic oil-laden water and crude oil into unlined pits, estuaries, and rivers during its operations in Ecuador's Oriente between 1971 and 1992, and the company left behind nearly 350 open waste pits, some just a few feet from the homes of residents. As a result, crops were damaged, farm animals killed, and cancer increased among the local population.

In another lawsuit, a group of farmers along the Colombia-Ecuador border filed a class-action lawsuit** against DynCorp for their massive aerial spraying campaign of border populations under the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), the Torture Victim Protection Act, state law, and claims in US federal court in the District of Columbia. "DynCorp sprayed toxic herbicide as frequently as on a daily basis, in a reckless manner, causing severe health problems (high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, dermatological problems) and the destruction of food crops and livestock of approximately 10,000 residents of the border region. In addition, the plaintiffs alleged that the toxicity of the fumigant caused the deaths of four infants in this region. The plaintiffs alleged under ATCA that DynCorp's intensive aerial spraying of a toxic fumigant amounted to torture, a crime against humanity and cultural genocide."

In a later lawsuit, "1660 citizens of the Ecuadorian provinces of Esmeraldas and Sucumbios who were not part of the class-action lawsuit described above filed a separate lawsuit against DynCorp in US federal court in Florida. The provinces of Carchi, Esmeraldas and Sucumbios also sued DynCorp in Florida federal court over the spraying, in lawsuits filed in December 2006, and March and April 2007. The plaintiffs in these four cases allege that DynCorp's spraying of fumigants injured the residents of these provinces, for which they are bringing claims under Florida state law, Ecuadorian law and international law."

Now, Chevron is lobbying the Bush administration to pressure Ecuador to quash the case. Chevron's lobbying team includes former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, former Democratic Senator John Breaux and Wayne Berman, a top fundraiser for John McCain. One lobbyist told Newsweek, "We can't let little countries screw around with big companies like this-companies that have made big investments around the world." [from Democracy Now July 31, 2008 broadcast]


**The full text of Ecuador’s Application instituting proceedings will be
available shortly on the Court’s website (

Information Department:
Mrs. Laurence Blairon, Secretary of the Court, Head of Department (+31
(0)70 302 2336)
Messrs. Boris Heim and Maxime Schouppe, Information Officers (+31 (0)70
302 2337)
Ms Joanne Moore, Assistant Information Officer (+31 (0)70 302 2394)


  • "DynCorp International: Faces Lawsuit in DC Over 'Plan Colombia'", Class Action Reporter, 17 Jan 2006
  • "Farmers Fight DynCorp's Chemwar on the Amazon", Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn, Counterpunch, 27 Feb 2002
  • "Ecuadorians File U.S. Suit Over Plan Colombia", Danielle Knight, Inter Press Service, 24 Sep 2001
  • DynCorp International: DynCorp International Again Wins State Department Contract for Narcotics Eradication and Interdiction, 19 May 2005 -
  • Labor Rights Advocates [co-counsel for plaintiffs]: Dyncorp - Case Summary - US Dept of State, Bureau of International Narcotics & Law Enforcement Affairs: Aerial Eradication of Illicit Coca in Colombia [links to annual State Dept reports on this subject] US District Court for District of Columbia, Arias v. DynCorp
  • [PDF] Memorandum Opinion and Order, 21 May 2007
  • [PDF] Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, 7 Jan 2002
  • [DOC] Class Action Complaint, 11 Sep 2001
  • [PDF] Earthrights International amicus brief, 9 Mar 2002 The aerial spraying of fumigants has also resulted in a diplomatic dispute between the Governments of Ecuador and Colombia.
  • [PDF] Aerial spraying knows no borders: Ecuador brings international case over aerial spraying, Transnational Institute, Drug Policy Briefing, Sep 2005
  • Organization of American States: At OAS, Ecuador Presents Complaint About Colombia's Aerial Spraying of Herbicides Along Border, 9 Jan 2007
  • Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense: Plan Colombia: Legal Violations and Court Cases, [links to decisions regarding domestic Colombian and Ecuadorian legal challenges to the aerial spraying under Plan Colombia]
Al Gore Places Infant Son in Rocket to Escape Dying Planet
[ fresh from the July 31 edition of The Onion]

EARTH - Former vice president Al Gore-who for the past three decades has unsuccessfully attempted to warn humanity of the coming destruction of our planet, only to be mocked and derided by the very people he has tried to save-launched his infant son into space Monday in the faint hope that his only child would reach the safety of another world.

"I tried to warn them, but the Elders of this planet would not listen," said Gore, who in 2000 was nearly banished to a featureless realm of nonexistence for promoting his unpopular message. "They called me foolish and laughed at my predictions. Yet even now, the Midwest is flooded, the ice caps are melting, and the cities are rocked with tremors, just as I foretold. Fools! Why didn't they heed me before it was too late?"

Al Gore-or, as he is known in his own language, Gore-Al-placed his son, Kal-Al, gently in the one-passenger rocket ship, his brow furrowed by the great weight he carried in preserving the sole survivor of humanity's hubristic folly. [ story continued in The Onion ]

Testimony by Science for the People: 1. Klingle Valley Road 2.DC Incarceration rate

Testimony: Jane Zara, on behalf of DC Metro Science for the People: Klingle Valley
Budget Hearing on DDOT, Committee on Public Works and the Environment Friday, April, 18, 2008

Good afternoon, Councilmember Graham. My name is Jane Zara and I am here to speak on behalf of DC Metro Science for the People, a local 501C(3) group of scientists, engineers, academicians, health care workers, and community members that work toward enhancing science literacy and healthy living in our community.

I am here to speak specifically about Klingle Valley. This is not just about providing incentives for increased car use, which is unwise in DC. It's not just about funding another road to go through a National Park. It's also about questioning why you would provide incentives for increasing car use for short-sighted, short term gains. It's about what we see as big problems in DC and encouraging instead the discipline needed for a long-range vision and strategy to deal with these problems.

The health of DC residents is abysmal. DC has the lowest life expectancy in the nation. Lung disease from air pollution and obesity are among the biggest problems contributing to the demise of DC residents. (see, e.g., More Highways = More Pollution; Air Quality in DC Area, (DC region is in severe non-attainment of federal air quality standards under the Clean Air Act), ; Washington, DC Ranks 15th in Nation for Obesity, New Report Finds State and Federal Obesity Policies are Failing, We should devote funds to promote healthy behavior, to build safe bike paths and nature trails for our children to use, not roads which will exclude them... >>continued .

Testimony: Jane Zara, on behalf of DC Metro Science for the People: Incarceration Effects of Incarceration in DC Testimony of Jane Zara Roundtable on Executive's Public Safety Initiatives and Their Impact on Civil Liberties June 16, 2008, 2:00pm Good afternoon Councilmember Mendelson:
Speaking on behalf of DC Metro Science for the People, a 501c3 organization here in DC (, I just want to point out some of the ramifications of the policies discussed today, in keeping with the tendency of increasingly incarcerating our fellow citizens from DC, and the effects on their (and their families') health and wellbeing. (DC is Fourth in Nation in Incarcerating Residents, Washington Post, April 17, 2008, DZ04).

The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. One in every 100 American adults is locked up. One in nine African Americans between 20 and 34 years is locked up. Over 2.1 million Americans in some form of imprisonment: more than the populations of New Mexico, West Virginia, or several other states. All told, more than 7 million Americans are under some form of correction supervision, including probation and parole. (see Joint Economic Committee hearing, Opening Statement of Sen. Jim Webb: "Mass Incarceration in the US: At What Cost?" see also "Slammed: Inside America's broken - and broke - prison system" Mother Jones July/Aug 2008).

As you are probably well aware, the District has the fourth-highest incarceration rate in the nation, according to a report that says "jails nationwide are bursting at the seams even though crime is nearly as low as it has been in 30 years. In the District, 3,214 inmates are under city control at the D.C. jail and contract facilities. That is 553 people per 100,000 residents. Only Philadelphia and two Tennessee counties, Davidson and Shelby, lock up residents at a higher rate -in the case of the District, the nearly 7,000 inmates from the city being held in federal prisons. As part of a deal with Congress a decade ago, District prisoners are spread across 75 institutions in 33 states. Activists have been fighting for years to get Congress to pay more attention to what happens to those prisoners sent out of state." >>continued