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World & Nation Briefs, Page 3

Design for HDTV Said Flawed

The Washington Post


The debate seemed more fitting for a convention of electronics engineers: Should the microscopic lines that make up a video image change in unison as they simulate motion, or is it enough if only every other line changes at a time?

But the setting was a Capitol Hill hearing room, where lawmakers were evaluating a private-sector drive to give the United States the new video technology known as high-definition television.

Monday, four rival groups of HDTV developers announced they had joined forces. But at the hearing Thursday before the House subcommittee on telecommunications, a computer-industry representative and a researcher argued that the new consortium's proposed design is flawed, based on how the screen lines would interact.

"We're making a decision we'll have to live with for 50 years," said Nicholas Negroponte, head of the Media Lab at MIT.

The debate over picture technology stems from the fact that TV and computers are incompatible. Without special adaptive equipment, you can't use a television as a computer monitor, or see a TV show on a computer screen.

Computer screens, meant for close-up use, employ a "progressive" system of scanning. Each line is updated at once. That helps to create a non-shimmering screen, on which text can be read for long periods with ease.

HDTV is commonly seen as a key device for the information highway and a predicted merger of TV sets and computers. A person could use one unit to watch a football game, type a letter, balance the checkbook or tap into a distant database.

Jury Deliberations Begin in Retrial Of Suspended Miami Police Officer

The Washington Post


Jury deliberations began late Thursday in the racially charged manslaughter retrial of William Lozano, a suspended police officer, while Miami held its breath and leaders there appealed for calm.

Roy Black, Lozano's lawyer, ended his defense by reading a poem about the life of a police officer. Lozano, charged with recklessly killing two black men, wept quietly, dabbing his eyes with a white handkerchief.

Lozano, a Colombian native, is accused in the deaths of two men fleeing police on a motorcycle Jan. 16, 1989, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The driver was shot, and the passenger died in the ensuing crash. Their deaths sparked three nights of looting, gunfire and violence in Miami.

"No one wants to believe that William Lozano went out and killed these people," prosecutor John Hogan told jurors. "But I submit that's what happened."

Dade County Circuit Judge W. Thomas Spencer ordered a four-hour delay in announcing a verdict after Gov. Lawton Chiles, D, said Wednesday that police and National Guard troops first must be in place in Miami. The delaying tactic would be similar to that last month in Los Angeles where a jury trying four police officers finished deliberating in mid-afternoon but a judge withheld the verdict until the next morning.

Terrorist Bombing Kills Five, Destroys 17th Century Art

Los Angeles Times


A terrorist bomb that killed five people outside Florence's renowned Uffizi Palace early Thursday destroyed several minor 17th century works of Italian art, damaged some works by renowned artists but left the museum's most famous paintings and sculptures unharmed.

Italy's interior minister promptly called the bombing the work of "Mafia terrorism" at a time when Italian authorities are waging their most successful campaign ever against organized crime.

The bomb, planted in a parked car that had been stolen hours earlier, dug a crater 10 feet wide and 6 feet deep between the 16th century Uffizi Palace and an agricultural archive across the street. Police said they had a description of a man who walked away from the car shortly before the blast.

The explosion demolished a nearby four-story archive building, killing its custodian, her husband, her 8-year-old daughter and her 9-month-old baby. Police found an additional body, that of a 22-year-old architecture student who lived across an alley from the Uffizi's heavily damaged west wing. About 30 people were injured.

The Uffizi was less severely damaged than the archive, although most of its windows were blown out by the force of the blast. The museum houses Italy's most precious art collection, including Sandro Botticelli's "Birth of Venus," Leonardo da Vinci's "Adoration of the Magi" and Michelangelo's "Doni Tondo," his only completed oil painting. Also in the collection is the "Medici Venus," a 2,000-year-old marble sculpture that had been in the collection of Florence's ruling Medici family.

A Straight-A Recovery for Grad

Los Angeles Times


The valedictorian at Thursday night's Los Angeles City College commencement ceremony will speak from experience when he urges his 550 classmates to look with optimism to the future.

Former cocaine addict William Alexander Jr. is happy to forget about the past.

"It's a miracle I'm here, actually," says the man who emerged from a series of rehabilitation centers to become a straight-A student. "I could never imagine this. Never."

On Tuesday, Alexander was among 23 psychology students who completed an unusual Alcohol/Drug Studies program at the Vermont Avenue campus. It turned out he wasn't the only one who had lived the curriculum -- not just read about it in textbooks.

Classmate Paul Foucher, arrested more than 100 times on drug-related charges, now is headed for the University of California, Berkeley. Linda Young, a practicing alcoholic four years ago, is University of California, Los Angeles bound.