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Fiery Physicist Gets Wrist Slap

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Associated Press reports that a graduate student, a doctoral candidate at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, was convicted today of firebombing dozens of sport utility vehicles and causing more than $2 million in damage in an eco-vandalism rampage, but was cleared of the most serious charge against him.

The report, posted on LATimes.com, says the charges against Cottrell, stemmed from a series of firebombings in August 2003 at dealerships and homes in San Gabriel Valley east of Los Angeles:

About 125 vehicles were damaged or destroyed, causing an estimated $2.3 million damage. Some vehicles were spray-painted with "polluter," "smog machine" and "ELF," an acronym for the Earth Liberation Front, a radical environmental group. Defense lawyers argued that Cottrell had agreed with two friends to spray-paint vehicles but was shocked when they began hurling Molotov cocktails. Federal prosecutors have identified former Caltech students Tyler Johnson and Michie Oe as "fugitive co-conspirators" in the case. Both are believed to have fled the country.

Molotov cocktails?
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Why would radical environmentalists resort to firebombing -- an act that generates even more environmental pollutants into our smog- choked air?