A mistrial has been declared in the case of an eco-activist in California who was charged under an obscure, seldom-used federal law making it a crime to tell others how to make explosives with the intent of encouraging a lawless act. In 2003, Rodney Coronado, who had served some four years in prison for burning down a mink research facility at Michigan State University, spoke to a group of vegans (and at least two undercover agents from area law enforcement agencies) at a community center in San Diego. At the speech, in response to a question from an audience member, Coronado described the explosive device he used in the MSU fire and another, simpler device made out of an apple-juice jug. Coronado was later arrested and charged for the speech. Defense attorneys argued that Coronado was charged for political reasons, that he hadn’t encouraged his audience to use explosives, and that his comments are protected under the First Amendment. A hearing on whether to retry the case is set for Sept. 28.