UCLA Associated Students Ends Taco Bell Contract
Oct. 25, 2004
The Daily Bruin

The Associated Students of UCLA (ASUCLA) Board of Directors voted Friday to end Taco Bell’s contract with the campus.

After almost a year of controversy over allegations that Taco Bell’s tomato suppliers were committing labor abuse against tomato pickers in the Immokalee region of Florida, the board decided to not renew the restaurant’s contract, which expires Oct. 31. Its last day of business at UCLA will be this Friday.

In a statement released shortly after the decision, Taco Bell spokeswoman Laurie Schalow said the fast food company has been “targeted for something that we, alone, cannot control.”

“It is disappointing and unfair that the Coalition of Immokalee Workers has pressured UCLA students into making this decision and forced them to be involved,” the statement read.

Bob Williams, interim executive director of ASUCLA, estimated the loss in revenue generated by Taco Bell business, combined with opening new sandwich and taco restaurants in Taco Bell’s place, might cost the student government $85,000 in profit this fiscal year.

ASUCLA Finance Director Rich Delia said continued losses could force the association into debt, allowing administrators to take control of the board. ASUCLA members said the social issue of workers’ rights legitimized the fiscal risks of the decision.

Roommates of Deceased Cal Student Busted for Weapons, Felony Marijuana Charges
Oct. 21, 2004
The Daily Californian

Following the suspicious death of UC Berkeley senior Patrick McCann Oct. 15, nine Berkeley police officers raided his South Berkeley residence and arrested his four roommates on weapons and felony marijuana charges, police said.

Berkeley police officer Steven Rego said police uncovered 14 pounds of marijuana, more than 100 methadone pills, $14,000 in cash and multiple weapons, including a 12-gauge shotgun, an assault rifle, two semiautomatic pistols, bullets and throwing knives. They also discovered “Pay-O” sheets for recording drug transactions, digital scales and drugs that could be valued at thousands of dollars, Rego said.

The size of the bust and the presence of the weapons led police to speculate that the roommates – three UC Berkeley students and one former student – were involved in a significant marijuana-growing operation and were running a methadone lab, Rego said.

A roommate found McCann unconscious in his house and drove him to the hospital on Oct. 15, where he was pronounced dead on arrival at 1:06 p.m. After securing search warrants, police later raided McCann’s residence to investigate the death, Rego said.

Rego said police did not go into the house with the intention of finding drugs.

Three of the roommates were formally arraigned Oct. 18 on charges stemming from the raid. Matthew Morrison, 22, and Babatunde John Oyelowo, 21, were each charged with one felony count of possession of marijuana for sale and cultivation of marijuana.

Casey Lanzon, 23, was charged with possession of assault weapons on top of the marijuana charges. Lanzon last attended UC Berkeley in fall 2003 but never received a degree.

Rego said Lanzon was the apparent owner of the firearms and did not have a permit for the assault rifle.

Police later arrested UC Berkeley student Thatcher Hillegas, 22, on charges of possession of marijuana for sale. Hillegas, a former illustrator for The Daily Californian, was held at the Berkeley City Jail before he was released on $20,000 bail on Oct. 20.

Police could not say whether McCann was connected to the drug-related activities or whether the drugs were involved in his death, Rego said. Police do not suspect foul play or homicide, he said.

Morrison and Oyelowo are out on bail after being arraigned Oct. 19 in the Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland. Lanzon remained in jail on $20,000 bail until the morning of Oct. 21.

UCSC Researchers To Help Develop ‘Artificial Retina’ to Restore Eyesight
Oct. 18, 2004
UC Santa Cruz Currents

Five Dept. of Energy (DOE) national laboratories, a private company and three universities – including UCSC – will together develop an artificial retina that could potentially help those blinded by retinal diseases.

The Energy Dept.’s Office of Science plans to fund the artificial retina project with $20 million over the next three years. The National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation are also supporting the project.

UCSC Professor of Electrical Engineering Wentai Liu’s research in wireless communication technology is expected to contribute to the project, which is led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Southern California Doheny Eye Institute. Other partners include groups such as Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The artificial retina is a miniature disc that contains an electrode array that can be implanted in the back of the eye to replace a damaged retina. The disk captures visual signals from a camera on the viewer’s eyeglasses and sends them to the brain in the form of electrical impulses. Liu’s research could provide the link between the camera and the implant, and help restore some vision to those blinded by age-related ocular diseases.
– Compiled by Kristen Richer