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Crimes up in '91 against Arab-Americans

Hate crimes against Arab-Americans increased dramatically in 1991, largely because of the Persian Gulf war, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said Thursday. The report followed a similar survey by the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, which logged a record number of anti-Semitic incidents during the year. That group also linked the surge to the war. The Arab group listed 119 hate crimes last year, compared with 39 in 1990. Incidents listed in the report range from minor vandalism and threatening phone calls to the bombing of businesses and homes owned by Arabs. Of 70 cases investigated by authorities, only one was solved.

Escapees from W. Virginia prison sought

MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. _ Two of the three murderers who tunneled out of the West Virginia Penitentiary were allowed to work with shovels even though they had escaped before, an official said Thursday. Tomie Mollohan, 49, David Williams, 33, and Fred Hamilton, 34, remained at large one day after they were discovered missing during a head count, said warden Carl Legurksy. All were serving life terms. Williams broke into a house two miles from the prison Thursday morning and stole a woman's purse, police said. Prison officials said the escape route ran 32 feet from the floor of the greenhouse to a street outside.

Motive pondered in teen's ritualistic death

CLIFTON, N.J. _ As 17-year-old Robert Solimine Jr. was buried Thursday, friends and investigators puzzled over the motive that could have led five suburban teen-agers to plot his ritualistic death. Authorities said the five teens planned the killing during meetings at which prayers and Bible passages were read and medals depicting St. Joseph distributed. Police said a 17-year-old former altar boy strangled Solimine as they sat praying a "Hail Mary" in a parked car late Sunday night. Police were looking into reports that Solimine tattled on friends, telling their parents they were drinking alcohol. Also charged are a 14-year-old who was in the car; two other boys ages 14 and 17 who were in another car parked nearby; and Frank Castaldo, 18. The juveniles' names weren't released.

Bataan veterans offered bronze medal

WASHINGTON _ Navy Secretary Lawrence Garrett III has recommended that an estimated 4,000 Navy and Marine Corps men who fought to defend the Philippines at the outbreak of World War II be awarded the Bronze Star Medal. The move offers special recognition for those who in the two service branches were forced to take part in the infamous 70-mile Bataan Death March. Garrett said he approved the award for anyone who served under Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright in the defense of the Philippines at Bataan, Luzon and Corregidor from Dec. 7, 1941, to May 10, 1942. Garrett said the awards would be granted based on written applications from eligible veterans or their next of kin. The applications should be sent to the Navy Liaison Office, National Personnel Record Center, 9700 Page Blvd., St. Louis, Mo. 63132.

Mass. wins fight for congressional seats

BOSTON _ Massachusetts on Thursday won the right to keep its 11 congressional seats in a court ruling that could set the stage for a Supreme Court battle with Washington state over representation in Congress. Massachusetts was to lose one seat this year, due to population shifts calculated in the 1990 U.S. Census, while Washington gained a seat. But a special panel of three federal judges agreed with Massachusetts that it was improper to include people living overseas in apportioning congressional seats. Washington officials said they would appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which on March 4 is hearing a congressional apportionment case filed by Montana.

Briefly . . .

"Atlantis' moved to launch pad: Rocket engineers moved the space shuttle Atlantis to its launch pad at Cape Canaveral early Thursday in anticipation of the seven-person atmospheric research mission. Liftoff is targeted for March 23, with the eight-day flight ending at the Kennedy Space Center.

Temporary NASA head named: Aaron Cohen, director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston since 1986, was named Thursday to lead NASA until a successor is confirmed for outgoing administrator Richard Truly. Cohen will be acting deputy administrator.

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