News in Brief: Charges Against Liberation Front Members Not Dismissed

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An Oakland judge overruled Friday a motion to dismiss criminal contempt charges against third world Liberation Front members for disrupting a courtroom in October.

More than 20 liberation front members were charged with misdemeanors after interrupting a pretrial criminal hearing for six students arrested during last spring's ethnic studies protest.

"We did what we did to protest the selective prosecution of six students," said liberation front member Claire Bellman, a UC employee. "We hope the district attorney realizes there is no reason to prosecute this case."

Senior Rachel Drolet, a third world liberation member, said the group intends to accept the judgement of the courts.

"If they want us to pay a fine, we'll pay a fine," she said. "We have better things to do. We were victorious in the long run."

Drolet added that she feels the actions of the protesters were reasonable.

"It's a shame we live in a world where the courts feel justified in punishing people for taking a stand," she said. "It really highlights how our definition of fair does not match their definition."

A pretrial hearing is set for March 17 in Oakland.

ASUC Senators Oppose Prop. 21

The ASUC passed a bill Wednesday to condemn a ballot initiative that would create harsher punishments for juveniles involved in crimes.

The bill demands that Chancellor Robert Berdahl take a public stance on Proposition 21, which will appear on the March 7 ballot. It stipulates that the ASUC stand against the initiative "without any reservations" and will send a letter to the UC Office of the President and the UC Board of Regents stating their support.

The bill also directs the campus organizing director to encourage students to vote against the measure, specifically by going to sorority and fraternity houses.

"Prop. 21 is literally ridiculous," said ASUC Senator Roberto Hernandez. "It will basically incarcerate a whole generation."

Hernandez added he was not surprised the ASUC voted to oppose the initiative.

"We have a moral and social responsibility to stand against it," he said.

But Senator Ivan Jen said the student government made an uneducated decision.

"The bill was deceptively worded to put Prop. 21 in the worst light possible," he said. "Many people didn't read the actual proposition. I don't believe the ASUC has all the facts."

Ecologist: Global Economy Threatens Ecosystems

An expanding global economy will lead to greater prosperity but also poses a serious threat to the country's native plants and animals, said a UC Berkeley ecologist.

Foreign plants and animals cost the country $136 billion every year because they damage native products, according to a January article in Bioscience by Carla D'Antonio, associate professor of integrative biology.

"International trade has a really big cost associated with it," she stated. "Most harmful non-indigenous insect pests and plant pathogens arrive in the U.S. as stowaways on nursery stock, raw logs or cargo containers. And many invasive exotic plants are purposely introduced through the horticultural market."

D'Antonio reported her findings at a talk on Sunday at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science held in Washington D.C. Her speech was part of a session titled "Ecological Forecasting: How Will Human Domination Impact Ecosystems This Century?"

With the exponential rise in international trade, D'Antonio said she predicts at least a 50 percent increase in damages over the next 20 years. She said she expects 1,500 new insects and 50 new pathogens to enter the United States during that time, with approximately 15 percent leading to serious ecological and economic harm.

Foreign plants and animals cause economic harm as well as affect the balance of the ecosystem because they prey on native species and spread disease. D'Antonio said non-indigenous species are second only to land use change in causing species extinction.

The professor specializes in invasive plants in the Western United States and Hawaii. One of her current concerns is the African buffel grass which is planted by Mexican cattle ranchers and is now invading desert areas in southern Arizona.


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