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Archive for Sunday, June 27, 2004

Briefly

June 27, 2004

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Los Angeles

Police chief to review flashlights as weapons

Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton said Saturday that he planned to review the department's policy of allowing officers to strike suspects with flashlights, following the videotaped beating of a black man, Stanley Miller, last week.

Bratton, who has headed police departments in Boston and New York City, said the authorized use of a flashlight on resistant suspects was new to him and needed to be re-evaluated. Bratton, who took control of the LAPD in October 2002, said neither East Coast police department allowed flashlights to be used that way.

The announcement came after Bratton participated in a closed-door meeting with about 60 religious and community leaders in Los Angeles.

Two television news helicopters taped LAPD Officer John J. Hatfield hitting Miller 11 times with a flashlight at the end of a car chase.

Washington

Computer pioneer dies

Robert W. "Bob" Bemer, who helped invent the language used by most of the world's computers to translate text to numbers and who was the first scientist to warn of the Y2K problem, died of cancer June 22 at his home on Possum Kingdom Lake in Texas. He was 84.

Without the invention of the computer code ASCII, there would be no e-mail, no World Wide Web, no laser printers and no video games. Bemer, known as "the father of ASCII," created the code in 1961 by assigning standard numeric values to letters, numbers, punctuation marks and other characters.

Bemer did not cash in on the financial bonanza of the computer revolution, his family said. His cars simply bore the vanity license tags ASCII and COBOL.

Ohio

Missing professor baffles community

A monthlong search for a retired college math professor who has Alzheimer's disease has failed to turn up any clues, police said.

The wife of 81-year-old Charlie Capel awoke May 21 to find her husband gone, his glasses and wallet still on the bedroom dresser and the door to the couple's home open.

"I want to believe that Charlie went for a walk that morning -- he used to be a big walker -- made a wrong turn and got lost," said 82-year-old June Capel, his wife of 58 years. "Maybe someone picked him up and dropped him off at a shelter or something. I don't know. We may never know."

Police in Oxford used search dogs and helicopters to scour a 10-mile radius around the house four times.

Seattle

International humpback whale study begins

Researchers are heading out to the North Pacific this week on a four-month mission to learn more about humpback whales, which have had their population decimated by more than a century of commercial whaling.

The voyage of the federal research ship McArthur II marks the kickoff of a three-year, $3 million multinational effort to assess the region's humpback population.

"This is the largest whale project that has ever been attempted -- the most people and the biggest ocean," said Jay Barlow, chief scientist on the ship, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fleet.

Humpbacks are believed to make the longest migration of any mammal, as much as 5,000 miles one way.

The huge mammals were hunted for their oil and for use as fertilizer and dog food.

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