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News Briefs II

Amazon.com Buys Two Internet Companies, Broadening Reach

The Washington Post

Amazon.com, the biggest bookseller on the Internet, said Tuesday that it will pay $280 million in stock for two other Internet start-up companies, Junglee and PlanetAll. The move is part of Seattle-based Amazon's long-term strategy to be not just a bookstore but also a central online shopping site for many types of goods.

Junglee, a Sunnyvale, Calif., company founded in 1996, has won high marks for its search technology that enables consumers to compare prices of a wide variety of products. So far, the technology has been used by Internet services such as Yahoo, Compaq Computer Corp. and Cnet.

PlanetAll, based in Cambridge, Mass., offers a Web-based address, calendar and reminder service that also works on many hand-held devices, such as the Palm Pilot from 3Com.

According to Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder and chief executive, the two start-ups will strengthen the services Amazon already offers. "Junglee is about making it easier for people to find the things they'd like to buy online," Bezos said.

Genni Combes, an Internet analyst with investment bank Hambricht & Quist in San Francisco, said, "Amazon wants to be the first place consumers go for e-commerce." Although the company is best known for selling books online, it recently added music compact discs to its wares.

Sergeant Files $10 Million Suit Against Cochran, Firm

Los Angeles Times

A Los Angeles police sergeant filed a $10 million malicious prosecution suit in federal court Tuesday against attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. and his law firm.

Sgt. Michael Long, 48, was one of seven officers sued by Cochran on behalf of the survivors of a woman who was shot to death by police in 1993 after threatening to kill her 3-year-old son with a knife. Long enabled other officers to wrest the toddler free by firing pepper-spray into the eyes of the distraught mother, Sonji Taylor.

But after he did so, a Police Commission investigation found, Taylor lunged at him with a knife. Taylor and Officer Craig Liedahl, 45, fired at her nine times. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The district attorney concluded that the shooting, while tragic, was not criminal. The Police Commission reached a similar conclusion, finding that the two officers acted within department policy. Cochran, however, filed a $20 million Superior Court lawsuit against the city and the seven officers. The city settled with the family in 1997, agreeing to pay $2.4 million.

In his federal lawsuit against the Cochran law firm and Taylor's heirs, Long contended that the legal action against him was motivated in part by racial prejudice because he is white and the dead woman was black. He also charged that the plaintiffs and their lawyers harbored "malice, hatred and prejudice" against him because he is a police officer.

Cochran, reached in New York where he hosts a show for Court TV, said he could not comment about the suit because he had not seen it.