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Pioneering Caltech DNA researcher Roy Britten dies at 92

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Roy John Britten, a pioneering Caltech DNA researcher and Princeton Ph.D nuclear physicist who switched fields to biophysics after working on the Manhattan Project, has died at age 92, Caltech officials announced Thursday.

A Caltech Distinguished Carnegie Senior Research Associate, Emeritus, and one-time adjunct professor at UC Irvine, Roy Britten continued to publish papers into his 90s, remaining active in the scientific community until his death on Jan. 21.

Beginning his academic career as a physicist, the "committed pacifist" who worked on the Manhattan Project in World War II was "always pleased to say that his particular project was a complete failure," his son said in a statement, notes the Pasadena Sun.

Interested in the fundamental characteristics of animal DNA, the Washington D.C. native arrived at Caltech's Kerckhoff Marine Laboratory in Corona del Mar in 1971 to study genomes.


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L.A. traffic cop fired for porn appearance wants his job back

Screenshot via NBC LA

At a hearing on Wednesday, John Dancler, the 23-year veteran L.A. traffic cop fired for his on duty, uniformed, extracurricular appearance in a porn film, fought to be reinstated as a traffic officer. 

Dancler said of his involvement, "it wasn't the best thing I have ever done," as he made an appeal to the Los Angeles Civil Service Commission to reverse the misconduct dismissal by The Department of Transportation following last year's NBC4 investigation

The hearing examiner was shown every frame of Dancler's role in the film that included public groping, spanking and other acts with an adult video actress.

The former officer said he was "caught totally unaware" when he was approached to appear in the film.

A report from the hearing will be evaluated by a full Civil Aervice Commission next month, and a decision will be made.


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Octomom babies turn a collective 24 years old today

Nadya Suleman, known as the Octomom, poses for an undated photo in New York to promote an appearance on MTV.
AP Photo/Dave Allocca/StarPix

Octomom Nadya Suleman celebrated birthday number three with eight of her fourteen babies on Thursday.

The world's only complete set of octuplets were born to the single mother (who already had six children) by way of questionable reproduction assistance three years ago.

Suleman's Beverly Hills fertility specialist, Dr. Michael Kamrava, was relieved of his medical license last year by the state medical board that found "he had violated professional standards by implanting Suleman with 12 embryos she had kept in storage," notes the L.A. Times

Initial hospital costs drained hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, and it is unknown if Noah, Maliyah, Isaiah, Nariyah, Jonah, Josiah, Jeremiah, Makai -- all with the middle name "Angel" -- will require long term care, as multiple birth children suffer a higher rate of health complications.


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Philippe's celebrates Groundhog Day by raising coffee price 400%

Philippe the Original, 1001 North Alameda Street, Los Angeles 90012
Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr Creative Commons

Philippe's 9-cent coffee will be but a shadow on Feb. 2 when the landmark L.A. French dip depot raises the price of their hot, wet caffeine to a whopping 45 cents on Groundhog Day.

Citing a rise in supply costs, the days of dime coffee (9 plus 1 cent tax) are done, according to a note posted on the door by management on Wednesday, the L.A. Times reported.

The restaurant, taking up residence at 1001 North Alameda Street since 1977, will still include coffee with breakfast at a price that remains easy to swallow. 

Old-fashioned and comfortably clockwork, the credit card-less establishment will still be giving away sawdust for free.

Our friends at Blogdowntown have more on this change in local tradition.


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Los Angeles travel reports shows 'impressive growth' in tourism

Photo by Amy Johnson via Flickr Creative Commons

Los Angeles travel increased 4.2 percent in 2011 with a record setting 26.9 million people visiting the city, and spending an estimated $15.2 billion, the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau announced today.

Bureau head Mark Liberman remarked that one in 10 jobs in Los Angeles is related to tourism, and that the LA INC. report represented "impressive growth" in restaurant spending, hotel occupancy and attraction attendance compared to 2010 figures.

The number of international travelers is on the rise, according to the report. Australians made up the largest block of tourists in 2011, while China showed the largest year-over-year increase with 25 percent more visitors arriving in 2011.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took some credit for a five-year, 150 percent increase in Chinese tourists, citing an L.A. tourism office that opened in Beijing in 2006, notes CNS.


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