From the Newsletter (10/31/09)   

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Statement by the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Peace Committee - ed. by Everett Foy


Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Transformation on Tour - by Jay Marx


The Israel Nuclear Weapons Program- by John Steinbach


Global Climate Change: How far are we from Catastrophe? What can be done to prevent it? - by David      Schwartzman


Science Against the People: Lies have long legs - by John Kelly


Book Review: In Defense of Food - by Peter Caplan


DC Metro SftP Community Grants Programs by Jane Zara


New Marxian Times Conference at Amherst, Nov 5-8Synopsis of Presentations by David Schwartzman and Jane Zara


Statement by the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Peace Committee - ed. by Everett Foy


On August 10th, 2009, Ms. Kazumi Tsuchida, of Nagasaki, spoke at the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Peace Committee’s 28th annual Commemoration, held at the World War II Memorial between the Washington and Lincoln Monuments. She spoke softly and yet with great courage, and at length, about the suffering of herself, her family, her community; and her later gaining of knowledge about the suffering of the world at large following the “suicidal act” of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

She writes that what she learned through a lifetime of personal suffering is part of a wider world of generations of people in many, many countries yearning for peace, yearning for justice, yearning for freedom from the threat of “extinction and destruction of the Earth.”

We in the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Pace Committee of the National Capital Area, along with our partners, the Washington Peace Center and DC Metro Science for the People, also feel this way about the world, and about the suffering it is still generationally going through as a result of this genocidal act by the military-industrial-nuclear complex that still creates suffering everywhere, and still threatens destruction of the earth. We are hoping to oppose all nuclear programs in all nations and help to advance this Earth of ours to the state of peace that all people justly deserve. We are hoping you can support our efforts to see and live on a nuclear-free planet that can offer everyone an equal opportunity for peace and justice throughout the world. Contact us and learn how your efforts can help make a great difference. For the past few years we have been sponsoring a youth delegation to the World Conference Against A-&-H-Bombs held in early August in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


Mrs Tsuchida's Jona House speech can be found here.



Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Transformation on Tour - by Jay Marx
Proposition One in 2010! Campaign Promoting Disarmament Initiatives Nationwide


Many people only know the work of Proposition One from the anti-nuclear peace vigil signs in front of the White House in Lafayette Park (24/7 for 28 years). Others remember the 1993 initiative campaign that put nuclear disarmament on the ballot in DC (Initiative 37), and won! This summer, the Proposition One in 2010! Campaign Crew (Prop.1 co-founder Ellen Thomas, local activist Jay Marx, longtime vigiler Troy Kovacs, and Sophie the Wonderdog) took a 19 state tour of the American West, telling the story of DC's disarmament initiative and the White House vigil, and urging citizen action across the country. Proposition One is unique in that it combines nuclear disarmament with economic conversion--aiming to take the $50+ Billion the US spends yearly on nukes and spend it instead on peaceful purposes and human needs (like Health Care and Solar Panels, not Missiles & Bombs). The next six months are a historic opportunity for disarmament and conversion action, as President Obama's agenda coincides with a new US "Nuclear Posture" review, senate votes to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and renew the US/Russia START agreement, and - most crucially - the 5-year Review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) at the UN in New York in early May. The world is eager to disarm, now that the US is (finally) leading that way, and Obama's Nobel Peace Prize has provided even more momentum in a peaceful direction.


The Israel Nuclear Weapons Program* - by John Steinbach

          With several hundred weapons and a robust delivery system, Israel has quietly supplanted Britain as the World’s fifth-largest nuclear power, and now rivals France and China in terms of the size of its nuclear arsenal. Although it maintains an official policy of nuclear ambiguity – neither acknowledging nor denying possession of nuclear weapons – Israel is universally recognized as a major nuclear power. As former UN Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix has noted, “The whole world is fairly sure that they have about 200 weapons, and beating around the bush I think doesn’t change very much—they are part of the nuclear landscape”[i]; and according to the authoritative Center for Defense Information, “the Israeli nuclear weapon infrastructure is probably quite large, including the full range of strategic and tactical battlefield weapons.”[ii] While much attention has recently been lavished on the potential threat posed by Iranian weapons of mass destruction, the major nuclear power in the region, Israel, has been largely ignored. Possessing a sophisticated nuclear arsenal with an integrated strategy for its use in combat, Israel’s nuclear monopoly provides the major regional impetus for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. With India and Pakistan, the other nuclear-armed non-signatories to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the Israeli nuclear program imperils future nuclear nonproliferation efforts. Israel’s nuclear arsenal reinforces the prospect that future conflicts in the region could rapidly escalate into a regional or global nuclear cataclysm. In 1963, Shimon Peres enunciated Israel’s policy of nuclear ambiguity or opacity, neither confirming nor denying its nuclear program; “Israel will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons in [the Middle East]”.[iii] In 2001, Aluf Benn writing in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists discussed the policy of Israel’s Nuclear opacity; “although everyone knows what capabilities Israel has, it remains silent about them.”[iv] Because of its draconian military censorship, the world has derived most of its knowledge about the Israeli nuclear program from whistle-blowers, unguarded comments by Israeli political leaders, and analysis of evidence by scientists and arms control experts. Information contained in this paper was collected from the historical record and from contemporary authoritative sources and press accounts. Where possible, direct quotes from Israeli officials, commentators and nuclear experts are used to illustrate points, and primary sources are referenced. Careful analysis and cautious skepticism are prerequisites for presenting an accurate overview of Israel’s nuclear program.



*A complete version of this paper appears in, a project of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.


Global Climate Change: How far are we from Catastrophe? What can be done to prevent it? - by      David Schwartzman

         The threat of catastrophic climate change ("C3") now confronts all humanity. What are the biggest obstacles to prevention? And why is this challenge also an unprecedented opportunity to end the global rule of capital? Why is it critical to take seriously the sciences of climatology and thermodynamics for C3 prevention and to construct the other world that is possible? Why 21st Century Socialism will either be Ecosocialism or simply will remain the narrow vision of political sects?


See the ==> PowerPoint presentation made by the author as part of a class conducted last Oct12 at a SALSA (The Social Action and
Leadership School for Activists)





Science Against the People: Lies have long legs - by John Kelly

   It is fortunate for us that the identification of marijuana has never been legally challenged. However, this situation may not last too        long.
             UN Narcotics Report/1961

   The Duquenois test, the most widely used chemical test, is a somewhat enigmatic reaction whose mechanism is poorly understood. 
             Thornton and George Nakamura/1972            

As it enters its 72 nd year, the Duquenois-Levine (D-L) color chemical test has yet to be validated despite being involved in the arrests, prosecutions, and convictions of millions of individuals. Yet forensic studies have been published in peer review journals claiming to have demonstrated the accuracy and reliability of the D-L test. For instance, a seemingly authoritative 2000 study funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and co-authored by Alim A. Fatah of the Office of Law Enforcement at NIST claimed to have validated the D-L test. Indeed, the title of the article published in Forensic Science International was “Validation of twelve chemical spot tests for the detection of drugs of abuse.” (1)


To validate a drug test means to demonstrate that it is specific, i.e., the test identifies that specific drug to the exclusion of all other drugs. According to the authors themselves, they did not validate these 12 tests because they found they were nonspecific, i.e., rendered false positives. “A positive CST (color spot test),” they wrote, “may indicate a specific drug or class of drugs is in the sample, but the tests are not always specific for a single drug or [class]” (2) The term “not always specific” -- as well as “relatively specific” which was also used by the authors --  is unscientific, illogical, deceptive, and indicates unreliability. How can a test be specific sometimes and not specific at other times? If it’s not always specific, it’s nonspecific which is what they found: “For example, cobalt thiocyanate (A.1) is used to detect cocaine. However, many other drugs will also react with this reagent and each analyte that tested positive with cobalt thiocyanate, produced a strong blue color (the same as cocaine).” (3) Speaking of the D-L test, they wrote that “mace, nutmeg and tea reacted with the

modified Duquenois-Levine [test],” (4) i.e., produced false positives. It should be noted also that there are literally millions of compounds that were not checked to determine whether they rendered false positives with the D-L test.  Moreover the authors ignored scientific articles which have reported more than a hundred substances which render false positives with the D-L test. This omission violated elementary scientific research and publication principles and requirements.

Even if they had somehow found the tests to be specific, it would have been meaningless because, as they admitted, the D-L test is subjective: “[A]ctual color [may] vary depending on [the] color discrimination of the analyst.” (5) In other words, an analyst’s or police officer’s vision (including that of the authors) could cause a false positive or even a false negative. Without resolving this impediment to accuracy and objectivity, they should not have concluded the test was valid even as screen test. People are arrested and jailed on the basis of this test. By definition, subjective means unreliable.  So the results of the D-L test are inadmissible as evidence under Daubert. The D-L test adversely affects the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of millions of individuals. This study is part of this adversity as it is cited by drug analysts, prosecutors, and judges in justifying its use and admitting its results as evidence.  It was recently so cited in the USA v Diaz case in San Francisco which is a drug case involving the death penalty. Indeed, citing this and other invalid studies, U.S. District Judge William Alsup declared: "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 used by the SFPD Crime Lab (which include the D-L test) are applied by trained, competent analysts." (6) (A few months before Alsup's declaration, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York decreed that: “False positives -- that is, inaccurate incriminating test results -- are endemic to much of what passes as forensic science.” (7)) Even a manual that accompanies the D-L field kit states that: “There is no existing chemical reagent system, adaptable to field use that will completely eliminate the occurrence of an occasional invalid test result.” (8)

The best known D-L “validation” study was published in 1972 by John Thornton and George Nakamura. It instantly became the gold standard and protocol across the country for marijuana identification and still is. Like the NIST study, this report is internally contradictory, inconsistent, and scientifically flawed. On the front page of this article it states that the D-L test is a “confirmation” test “of marijuana.” (9) By definition, confirmatory tests are valid and reliable; prove the presence of a drug beyond a reasonable doubt; and are specific, i.e., identify the drug to the exclusion of all other drugs and do not render false positives. They are also selective, i.e., do not render false negatives.

However, the imprecise, unscientific language and syntax of the article and its actual data contradict its conclusion that the D-L test is a confirmatory test. For instance, the authors wrote: “The occurrence of cystolithic hairs are an important criterion of the identification of marijuana leaf fragments. . . In any event, cystolithic hairs cannot be used as a sole criterion for marijuana identification. The Duquenois-Levine test is found to be useful in the confirmation of marijuana, since none of the 82 species possessing hairs similar to those found on marijuana yield a positive test.”(10) The term “found to be useful” is imprecise and scientifically inadequate. The D-L test is either a confirmatory test or it is not. Vague imputations are unacceptable conclusions. This is especially true with these studies because drug analysts look to these studies to assure that their tests are valid, and prosecutors cite these studies to convince judges to admit the results of these tests into evidence.

Even the sample of plants checked for cystolithic hairs and tested with the D-L test was woefully inadequate. The authors themselves wrote that there were more than 31,000 plants – actually there were at least 195,000 – which may have cystolithic hairs and test positive for marijuana. The authors also reported that there were two non-marijuana substances found to render false positives with the D-L test which the authors did not test. This means they did not prove specificity. Nonetheless, the authors claimed that the D-L test is specific: “The specificity of the Duquenois reaction has been established, empirically at least, over the past three decades (Ed. Note: No citations). No plant material other than marijuana has been found to give an identical reaction.” They added that: “The original Duquenois reaction was adopted as a preferential test by the League of Nations Sub-Committee on Cannabis (Duquenois, 1950). A modification of the test has been proposed by the United Nations Committee on Narcotics (1960) as a universal and specific test for marijuana. The modification referred to is the addition of chloroform to the final colored complex, a technique suggested by the U.S. Treasury Department Bureau of Narcotics (Butler, 1962). This modification of the test would seem to insure the specificity of the reaction, as the reactive phenolic materials other than the constituents of marijuana resin do not give colors soluble in chloroform. This has lead [sic] the UN Committee on Narcotics to conclude that there is nothing other than marijuana which will give exactly the same Duquenois reaction (Farmilo et al, 1962).” (11)  All of these assertions have now been proven false.

As was the case with the NIST-sponsored study, the article itself is invalid and cannot be legitimately cited by drug analysts or prosecutors because the D-L test is subjective -- it depends on the color discrimination of the tester. This is the type of peer review that should have led the journal to reject the article. Subsequent to its publication, scores of substances were found to render false positives with the D-L test, and the UN declared that the D-L test was only a screening test and that the only valid test for marijuana and cocaine is gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS).

In 1975, Dr. Marc Kurzman and 12 other scientists published the in the Journal of Chemical Defense:

“The microscopic and chemical screening tests presently used in marijuana analysis are not specific even in combination for “marijuana” defined in any way. The three screening tests usually used in many laboratories’ Cannabis analyses and their selectivity are:

  1. Microscopic Test – At least 24 plant families (average 100 species each) contain crystolith hairs. Nakamura has found that about 60/800, or 13% of the plants have cystolith hairs which are actually similar to those of Cannabis. Since there are over 250,000 species of flowering plants in the world, the 13% potentially represents a great number of species.
  1. Duquenois-Levine Test – The Levine modification test has now been proven to be simply a test for moderate weight molecular resorcinols, common plant chemical substances. The original Duquenois test was recognized in the 1960’s as being highly non-specific. DeFaubert Maunder has reported finding (in a limited plant sampling) 25 plant species besides Cannabis which will give a positive Duquenois-Levine test. Smith has also found that 12 of 40 common plant oils and extracts will give a positive Duquenois-Levine test. 
  1. Thin Layer Chromatography (in a single ‘run’ or solvent, system with one color spray) – If one assumes the color spray to be equivalent to a second test, studies by Connors and Sunshine lead one to the conclusion that about 1 out of 20 (or 5%) of chemical substances would ‘pass’ the thin layer chromatographic test. If one conservatively estimates there are about 200,000 common chemical substances in the plant kingdom, then there are about 5,000 which would give a ‘false-positive’ thin layer chromatographic test.” (12)

    Kurzman, who is also an attorney, then proceeded to prove his conclusions by successfully challenging the Thornton/Nakamura protocol in court. He reported that:

     “A particularly notable trial recently was held in North Dakota which included this ‘best scientific evidence principle’ – specifically for the testing of presumed Cannabis. The Honorable Ralph B. Maxwell. Presiding Judge of the 1st Jud. Dist. of North Dakota, gave a judgment of acquittal in the marijuana sale case of North Dakota v. Ethyell. Within hours after the conclusion of that trial, three marijuana sale cases, one LSD sale case, and one heroin sale case (scheduled on the court calendar immediately after the Ethyell trial) were dropped by the State Prosecutor’s office (in view of certain acquittals based on the Ethyell decision).”


    “The Etyell decision was based on: (a) failure of the prosecuting chemist to provide the ‘best scientific evidence’ – specifically with regard to thin layer chromatograms which were claimed to have been done by the analyst, and (b) the failure of the prosecuting analyst to confirm the identity and integrity of the chemicals he used in the analytical tests. . .”


    “After an initial flurry of acquittals, we find many state and city prosecutors and/or chemists reluctant to participate in a case where they know they’ll be facing an attorney and a scientist who are fully aware of the inadequacies of the common forensic tests used for marijuana ‘identification.’ Accordingly, prosecutors are beginning to dismiss marijuana cases. In fact, seven such ‘day before trial dismissals’ (out of eight scheduled trials) were achieved by Dr. Kurzman in the weeks preceding completion of this paper. In those instances where the issues presented herein have been carefully prepared and argued by defense attorneys, we have noted exceptional ‘deals’ being offered by prosecutors in an attempt to forego lengthy litigation.” (13)


    To this day, neither John Thornton, George Nakamura or anyone in the forensic science community has responded to Kurzman’s article even though the Thornton/Nakamura protocol is the most widely used marijuana identification test. Moreover, their erroneous conclusions are still promulgated by forensic scientists and permeate high court decisions resulting in wrongful convictions.  For instance, in 1989, the Criminal Court of New York ruled that: “In the documentation submitted by the People in support of their motion, the Duquenois-Levine test is described as an extremely reliable test for the presence of marijuana, developed in 1937, modified in 1962 and currently in wide use in forensic laboratories. The particular test kit used by Police Officer Rodelli has also been purchased by law enforcement agencies in nearly every State as well as the United States Armed Forces. . .

    “Henry Mills, supervisor of drugs for the Division of Forensic Science, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, asserts that in his 19 years of laboratory experience he has ‘not found a “false positive” – i.e., an instance where a substance was positive on the modified Duquenois-Levine color test but “negative” for marijuana after microscopic examination.’ Susan Hart Johns, research and development program administrator for the Illinois State Police, claims a similar experience: in more than 2,000 laboratory tests, she did not have a “false-positive” ( purple in the lower chloroform layer) when using the modified Duquenois-Levine test on leafy plant material. And a test conducted by the New York City Police Department as part of its officer training program was apparently to the same effect: in every 1 of 25 instances (19 non-marijuana substances and 6 marijuana samples), the field test gave the correct results. . . 

    “Finally the People point to a 1976 study by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Laboratory of the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Department of Justice, which found the modified Duquenois-Levine test highly selective for marijuana and concluded that if the test is properly performed the ‘possibility of a false positive becomes negligible.’(At 97.). . . . (Hughes and Warner, “A Study of “False Positives” in the Chemical Identification of Marijuana” – Drug Enforcement Administration Laboratory Notes, Microgram Vol. IX, No. 7 (July 1976).”

    “In this case,” continued the court, “the People’s affidavits and submissions represent ample proof that the Duquenois-Levine test is generally accepted as reliable by experts in the field, including those in the Federal Government. This court’s own research has also found confirmatory reports of the test’s reliability. (See, Fochtman, Winek, “A Note on the Duquenois-Levine Test for Marijuana,” 4 Clinical Toxicology 287 [1971]; Moenssens, Moses and Inbau, Scientific Evidence in Criminal Cases op.cit.) Defendant has not cited any contrary findings. Moreover, appellate courts from other jurisdictions have affirmed the reliability of such field test procedures as sufficient to prove the identity of marijuana at trial. (State v Hill, 638 SW3d 827 [Tenn Crim App 1982]; accord, State v Sadusky, 54 Ohio Misc 49, 376 NE2d 1363 [Akron Mun Ct 1977]; State v Shoultz, 564 P2d 257 [Okla Crim App 1977]; Matter of Smith, Ohio Ct App, Mar. 31, 1982, docket No. 9-81-34).” (The People of the State of New York v. Juan Escalera, 143 Misc. 2d 779; 541 N. Y. s. 2d 707; 1989 N.Y. Misc.) (14)

    Despite Kurzman’s findings, in March 2009, a committee of the National Academy of Sciences endorsed use of the Thornton/Nakamura protocol for the identification of marijuana and reported that:


     “The analysis of controlled substances is a mature forensic science discipline and one of the areas with a strong scientific underpinning. The analytical methods used have been adopted from classical analytical chemistry, and there is broad agreement nationwide about best practices.

    . . . .

    “Controlled substances are analyzed by well-accepted standard schemes or protocols.

    . . .

    “The chemical foundations for the analysis of controlled substances are sound, and there exists an adequate understanding of the uncertainties and potential errors.” (15)


    The NAS committee based its erroneous conclusions on the testimony of Joseph P. Bono, former Director of the DEA Mid-Atlantic Laboratory  who told them “that experienced forensic chemists and good forensic laboratories understand which tests (or combinations of tests) provide adequate reliability.” (16) Bono is on record as stating that drug tests “are incapable of producing a false positive.” (17)


    Although the NIK NarcoPouch 908/Duquenois-Levine Reagent field test kit is the most widely used field test for identifying marijuana, there are no published studies as to its validity, reliability, or specificity, i.e., its capacity to render false positives. This is of particular concern because the company that produces the kit has written that: "The results of a single test may or may not yield a valid result. . . There is no existing chemical reagent test, adaptable to field use that will continually eliminate the occurrence of an occasional invalid test results [sic]. A complete forensic laboratory would be required to qualitatively identify an unknown suspect substance." (18) At the same time, the company claims that it has conducted and continues to conduct hundreds of validity and specificity studies but has not published any of these studies and, indeed, refuses to release this information. (19)

    This in an unacceptable state of affairs from both a legal and scientific standpoint because millions of people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted of marijuana charges on the basis of the Duquenois-Levine (D-L) color chemical test, both with and without a microscopic exam. Under the Supreme Court decision known as Daubert, all drug tests must be valid which is to say they do what they claim they do. In this case, identify marijuana to the exclusion of all other drugs. Under the Supreme Court decision know as Jackson, all drug tests must be specific, i.e., they do not test positive for legal substances, if they are the sole basis for prosecution and conviction. In other words, if the D-L test is not specific, it cannot be the basis for a prosecution or conviction.

    The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) of the Department of Justice has established the following requirement for literature accompanying drug field test kits: “A statement that the kit is intended to be used for presumptive identification purposes only, and that all substances tested should be subjected to more definitive examination by qualified scientists in a properly equipped crime laboratory.” (20) At the same time, the NIJ is funding programs to train police officers to identify marijuana at trials on the basis of the Duquenois-Levine test.

    The devastating effect of admitting conclusory reports and the results of nonspecific drug tests such as the D-L test as evidence has been eloquently enunciated by Professor Edward Imwinkelried.  He wrote:“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.” (21)


    It is clear that  neither the forensic science community nor the government will do the right thing, but Kurzman has shown that it is possible to successfully challenge forensic drug tests. Taking my cue from Kurzman’s work and that of Dr. Frederic Whitehurst, I have written a book entitled: How to Obtain a Pretrial Dismissal of Marijuana Charges or an Acquittal or an Exoneration. It is past the time for the American people to re-instate their Constitutional rights to due process and fair trial and take the law into their own hands as recommended by Thomas Jefferson. The intent of my book is to enable them to do so. 

  1. C.L. O’Neal, D.J. Crouch, A.A. Fatah, Validation of Twelve Chemical Spot  Tests for the Detection of Drugs of Abuse, 109, Forensic Science International, (20010, 189-201
  2. id.
  3. id.
  4. id.
  5. id.
  6. USA v. Edgar Diaz et al No. CRO5-0167 WHA U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, 2006
  7. U.S. v. Bentham, 414 F. Supp. 2d 472 (S.D. N.Y. 2006)
  8. NIK Public Safety System of Narcotics Identification, Armor Forensics 13386 International Parkway Jacksonville, FL 32218 AH-NIK-1004, 2004, at 5
  9. J.J. Thornton and G. R. Nakamura  The Identification of Marijuana, Journal of Forensic Science Society, V. !2, (1972)
  10. id.
  11. id.
  12. Marc G. Kurzman, 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)
  13. id.
  14. The People of the State of New York v. Juan Escalera Criminal Court of New York, Village of Horseheads, Chemung County 181 Misc. 2d 779; 541 N.Y. S. 2d 707; 1989
  15. Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward National Academy of Sciences, March 2009
  16. id.
  17.   Affidavit of Joseph P. Bono in United States v. Curtis and Price 755 A. 2d 1011 D.C. App. 2000
  18. id. supra at 8
  19. id. supra at 8
  20.  Color Test Reagents/Kits for Preliminary Identification of Drugs of Abuse NIJ     Standard 0604.01, U.S. Department of Justice/Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice/Office of Science and Technology NCJ 183258 (July 2000) 1-13
  21. E. J. Imwinkelried, Jackson v. Virginia: Reopening the Pandora’s Box of the Legal Sufficiency of Drug Identification Evidence, Kentucky Law Journal,  76 (1), 1984

    Research support was provided by the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute


Book Review: In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto- by Peter Caplan


Michael Pollan has added another to his collection of important and timely books, the most notable of which, “The Omnivore's Dilemma” I discussed in a previous SftP Newsletter (Oct 1, 2007 -   Pollan doesn't claim to be a scientist - he's a journalist.  But he is a talented and skillful journalist who does his homework, has aquired a deep knowledge of the twisting and checkered history of the blizzard of conflicting food and nutrition advice that assaults us every waking moment.  He wears his knowledge lightly, presenting his findings and admitting his biases and lecturing us in an engaging way.  His findings, hardly earth-shaking, are presented not only on page 1 but even right on the cover of the Penguin edition:  "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants". 


En route to this trinity of commandments, he produces a valuable case study of the corporate industrialization of one of the most important basic aspects of our lives, and with it some very useful pointers about how science becomes reductive science and how its findings are exploited as a kind of fundamentalistic scientism - in this case "nutritionism".  Food needs to be defended, he argues, because it has been buried beneath a cloud of "foodlike substances", each shrouded in a constantly-shifting scientific aura spelled out in miles-long chemical ingredients lists, and heavily promoted by corporate giants.  The "Nutritional-Industrial Complex" has succeeded in transforming our eating habits to try to eliminate fat from our diets and replace it with various imitations  and carbohydrates, and is reponsible, says Pollan, for 30 years of nutritional advice that have left us "fatter, sicker, and more poorly nourished".  


Pollan is harsh in his criticism of the questionable science used to justify this succession of dietary changes and the way in which each new finding is "blown away in the gust of the most recent study".  His chapter on "Bad Science" is especially relevant to the kind of analysis that we at Science for the People try to explore. In the process of his critique, however, he himself engages in some blatant hand-waving.  For example in attempting to show the ruinous effects of the Western diet upon newly-indoctrinated or newly-arrived third-worlders, he spends four pages describing a single experiment in which a group of Australian aborigines suffering from the usual Western-diet syndromes - diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, etc. - were transported to an area in which they could subsist by hunting and gathering in traditional ways.  They all lost weight and became much healthier.  But the study lasted only six weeks and involved all of ten people.


All in all, a must-read by an excellent writer, who once again makes strong and timely criticisms where they are sorely needed; albeit at times tending to let his conclusions outrun his evidence, in spite of 30-odd pages of documentation,.


Footnote:   From Democracy Now, Headlines for Oct 16:  Beef Industry Threatens California School over Michael Pollan SpeechFrom Democracy Now, Headlines for Oct 16:  Beef Industry Threatens California School over Michael Pollan Speech  From Democracy Now, Headlines for Oct 16:  Beef Industry Threatens California School over Michael Pollan Speech



"Administrators at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo are coming under fire for refusing to allow the bestselling food expert Michael Pollan to give a lecture on campus about sustainable food policies. Pollan was scheduled to give a one-hour lecture last night. But the format of the event was changed after a top executive at Harris Ranch Beef Company threatened to withdraw a pledged $500,000 donation for a new meat processing facility on the campus. After Harris Ranch Beef issued the threat, the public university invited a professor with close ties to the meat industry to appear along with Pollan. Michael Pollan has been a longtime critic of agribusiness and meat production. He recently appeared on Democracy Now! and discussed pigs in factory farms."


    Michael Pollan: “They administer antibiotics to these animals on a regular basis, because they could not survive without them. And the waste goes down directly below the animals into this giant cesspool that’s flushed, two or three times a day, out. And, I mean, they’re just—you know, they’re incubators for disease. The sows remain in crates their whole lives, so they can be conveniently inseminated, and they have their babies right there in their crates. You know, to go to one of these places is to stop eating industrial pork, basically. I mean, if we could see into this industrial meat production, it would change the way most of us eat.”




DC Metro SftP Community Grants Programs- by Jane Zara


DC Metro Science for the People e received three small community grants from the DC Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1D.  The projects funded were:

Bancroft Elementary Summer School Workshop:

One of the projects that developed from this program was participation in science classes in the summer school program at Bancroft Elementary School.  Our projects included setting up and maintaining a worm farm for the Bancroft Garden and for community gardens in Mt. Pleasant.  We also have been monitoring pollution in various parts of Mt. Pleasant using a pollution measuring device, and looking at the growth of lichen in our neighborhood as an indication of pollution.  In our most recent class, the student council held hearings, debated and voted on some proposed laws.* 

We also invited local leaders to share their experiences about how laws are passed by lawmakers in our city. One of the mock hearings provided votes on the following proposed legislation:


Criminal Justice Project:


The objective of this proposal was to learn and share with concerned residents of the community what a person’s rights are when accused of drug related activities (possession…), whether, when and how to challenge the validity of the evidence of illegal drugs.

Background:  A recent report by the National Association of Criminal Defense  Lawyers (NACDL) has clearly enunciated the consequences of the use of invalid drug tests for the prosecution of alleged marijuana offenders as well as for pressuring suspects to plea bargain.

          This national calamity is a direct consequence of enforcement policies that have become detached from legitimate concerns for public safety, sweeping up hundreds of thousands of non-violent, non-recidivist offenders.  It documents how assembly line justice is permanently disadvantaging millions of Americans at an incalculable cost to individuals, families, communities, and the public fisc.

Extractions of uninformed waivers of counsel are common.  Extraordinary volume and limited resources create an environment that places the ultimate premium on the guilty plea. The threat of excessive delay inevitably induces the incarcerated defendant to exchange a guilty plea for immediate or early release. Similarly, the bailed working defendant must weigh the cost of repeated time-consuming court appearances against the lure of an early disposition – often oblivious to the consequences of the conviction.

In many jurisdictions, public defenders have only minutes, or at most an hour or two, to devote to each case.  Facing similar burdens, prosecutors engage in questionable practices including the inherently coercive “one time only plea offer.” This practice involves a prosecutor offering the accused freedom or a limited sentence, but only in exchange for a guilty plea on the spot, without time for reflection, investigation, or meaningful counseling.

Institutional pressure on the various players has led to a pervasive phenomenon known as “meet and plead.” This is a widespread practice in which the accused pleads guilty at the first appearance. With the benefit of only a few minutes conversation with an attorney, often occurring in a holding in a holding cell or a courtroom hallway, the only “advice’ is the transmission of a plea offer. Then the accused appears before the judge, pleads guilty, and is sentenced.  The result is a vicious cycle of more arrests and less justice, an assembly line of conviction that extracts daunting social and economic costs.

Given that the marijuana tests have been is use for over 70 years, we believe the American people, in particular indigent minorities, have to take the law into their own hands, in the good sense of the term.  Our project seeks to do this by informing the community in how to effectively resist being railroaded by the War on Drugs.

The Supreme Court has ruled that these tests do not prove the presence of marijuana, and their results cannot be used as the basis for your prosecution or conviction.  You can request that your substances be tested with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) as well as request legal counsel.       

If you plea bargain or plead guilty, you can subsequently be deported, be denied employment, or denied access to a wide array of professional licenses and may be ineligible for student loans and even expelled from school. Additional consequences can include the loss of public housing and food and health benefits for you and your family.

The activities undertaken so far under the proposal have included the following:

  1. researching and acquiring information about the scientific and legal issues surrounding forensic evidence for proving drug possession, etc.
  2. organizing and attending meetings with the public about forensic evidence requirements, how and when to challenge them, what is at stake when going for a plea, rather than contesting the evidence.
  3. organizing open house at the Mt. Pleasant Public Library to inform the community about our projects
  4. staffing a table at the Mt Pleasant Farmers Market to distribute information about the projects and sign up interested volunteers
  5. surveying residents of Mt Pleasant about whether they are interested in wrongful convictions and forensic evidence, and when they could meet to discuss and plan future clinics
  6. translating our informational fliers/cards into Spanish, and gathering lists of local tenants' organizations in the Mt Pleasant neighborhood, so we can attend their meetings to distribute surveys, hand out information and do outreach for the upcoming clinics.
  7. We have created laminated carrying cards with the following information:

Upon arrest, you may be told that the test proves you have marijuana, crack, or cocaine. It does not, so you should not immediately agree to plea bargain or plead guilty even if the prosecutor says this is a “one time only plea offer.” You should also not waive or say you do not want legal counsel.


The Supreme Court has ruled that these tests do not prove the presence of marijuana, and their results cannot be used as the basis for your prosecution or conviction.


You can request that your substances be tested with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) as well as request legal counsel.


If you plea bargain or plead guilty, you can subsequently be deported, be denied employment, or denied access to a wide array of professional licenses and may be ineligible for student loans and even expelled from school. Additional consequences can include the loss of public housing and food and health benefits for you and your family.


A person convicted of a drug charge who later faces a federal drug crime charge may be ineligible for a reduction in sentence under a provision that permits federal judges to sentence below the mandatory minimum set forth in the statute.


On the other side of the card is the following Miranda warning.


“You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Do you understand?


Anything you do say may be used against you in a court of law. Do you understand?


You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future. Do you understand?


If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. Do you understand?


If you decide to answer questions now without an attorney present you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney. Do you understand?”


Community Gardening Projects in Mount Pleasant


The objective of this proposal was to learn and share with concerned residents of the community how to go about applying for a permit for a public garden for DC land in Mt Pleasant, how to monitor soil for pollution and for the ability to grow food, etc..

The activities undertaken so far under the proposal have included the following:

  1.  researching and acquiring the proper forms, etc for applying for a community garden with DCPR
  2. locating community space and determining interest in the community for growing a community garden
  3.  organizing and attending meetings with the public about community gardens.
  4.  organizing open house at the Mt. Pleasant Public Library to inform the community about our projects
  5.  staffing a table at the Mt Pleasant Farmers Market to distribute information about the projects and sign up interested volunteers
  6.   surveying residents of Mt. Pleasant about whether they are interested in community gardens, and when they could meet to discuss and plan gardens.
  7. Develop a model Vermicompost bin for demonstration and community education and outreach to help augment roof top gardening possibilities in the absence of ample available public spaces, and to enhance soil fertility, as well as educating residents about recycling waste and reducing costs of garbage removal by the city, and as a model citywide for DC.  Develop community consciousness about urban gardening and waste reduction through workshops and demonstration seminars.
  8. begin translating our informational fliers into other languages (e.g. Spanish, Vietnamese), and gathering lists of local tenant's organizations in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood, so we can attend their meetings to distribute surveys, hand out information and do outreach for the upcoming clinics.
  9.  research best kits, best ways to monitor soil samples and to check for hazardous conditions,  heavy metals, etc…

Next steps:

    1. Continue outreach to the community to provoke interest and sign up volunteers

    2. Presentation of a series of informative workshops on community gardens, how to get them, and what is best to grow at different times and places in the community

    3. Field measurements of soil samples using LaMott soil sampling kit

    4. Inquire about and send out soil and pavement runoff samples in and around community garden potential plots for heavy metal analyses.

    5. Write-up of a final report based on data collected

    6. Dissemination of press releases

    7. Using the findings above to develop a grant proposal to EPA, to develop a recyling model for the city, or a similar regional authority.




New Marxian Times Conference at Amherst, Nov 5-8 – Synopsis of Presentations by David Schwartzman and Jane Zara

Papers from panel hosted by DC Metro SftP, Science “Literacy” & Class Struggle, organized and chaired by Jane Zara

Jane Zara: What Are the Effects of Corporate Personhood and Rampant Privatization on Scientific Research
The paper will discuss biotechnology, patenting and corporate personhood which will include a class analysis of the biotechnology struggle, particularly in light of the role of corporations in amassing wealth and influence, thwarting democratic processes and unduly influencing  national and  international institutions (including the EPA, FDA, and USDA).  We will discuss contemporary issues affected by the IP process, including DC’s failed attempts to pass a compulsory licensing bill for lifesaving drugs, the ongoing HPV vaccine debate, Myriad’s breast cancer gene debacle, and the dubious feasibility of IL2 therapy in treating AIDS.


David  Schwartzman: 1. The Reds and Greens Need the Sciences, the Sciences Need the Red and Greens.
Ecosocialist theory and practice need to fully engage the natural, physical and informational sciences, in particular, climatology, ecology, biogeochemistry, and thermodynamics. These sciences will inform the green technologies of renewable energy, industrial ecology and agroecologies whose infrastructure must replace the present unsustainable mode.  At the same time, institutional research and development agendas need to be challenged by the ecosocialist movement, a critical component of class struggle in the 21st Century.  Not only should these agendas exclude the unsustainable and destructive technologies, such as nuclear power, “clean” coal and GMO, but be increasingly directed to developing green technologies in emancipative modes by insuring an ongoing dialogue between scientists and engineers and communities of struggle. The actual creation of sustainable infrastructures should be contingent on a process that organically includes participation of both the exploited and oppressed so that the social management and impacts of these technologies contribute to ecosocialist transition out of capitalism.

David  Schwartzman: 2. Ecosocialism or Ecocatastrophe.
The  struggle opening up a path to a socialist future is now compelled to confront as a priority objection the looming threat of ecocatastrophe stemming from climate change. Its prevention will require a near future creation of a high efficiency solar power infrastructure.  While individual capitalist economies may solarize, the dominant role of the military industrial complex in global capitalist reproduction makes its termination both an essential requirement for and likely a direct path to ecosocialist transition into solar communism on a global scale. Ecosocialist theory needs to fully engage the natural, physical and informational sciences, in particular, climatology, ecology, biogeochemistry, and thermodynamics. These sciences will inform the technologies of renewable energy, green production and agroecologies whose infrastructure are to replace the present unsustainable mode.

the findings above to develop a grant proposal to EPA, to develop a recyling model for the city, or a similar regional authority.One of the projects that developed from this program was participation in science classes in the summer school program at Bancroft Elementary School.  Our projects included setting up and maintaining a worm farm for the Bancroft Garden and for community gardens in Mt. Pleasant.  We also have been mon