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TANKER EXPLODES: A Japanese-owned tanker carrying toxic chemicals exploded and caught fire in the North Sea Friday, the Dutch coast guard said. At least five people were injured. There were no immediate reports of leaks, although local radio reported a second blast more than two hours after the vessel's initial emergency call at 6:20 a.m. MST.

2 BOMBS: Two powerful bombs, believed to have been planted by Muslim guerrillas, rocked Zamboanga city in the southern Philippines Friday night but there were no casualties, police said. The blasts coincided with an intensified military operation against Muslim separatist rebels, blamed for the killing of 25 troopers in an ambush on nearby Basilan island last month.NO APOLOGY: A Japanese lawmaker refused to apologize Friday for a disparaging remark about how he feels when shaking hands with a black person. He said the comment had been taken out of context and that no offense was intended. On Thursday, Masao Kokubo said: "We know in our heads that discrimination is bad, but our feelings are different. When you shake hands with someone who is completely black, you feel your hands getting black."

Across the nation

KILLER EXECUTED: A man who shot and killed five women during an 11-day crime spree and got caught when he tried to sell candy bars he had taken from one of his victims was executed in the electric chair in Jarratt, Va. Syvasky Poyner, 36, went to his death late Thursday at Greensville Correctional Center after the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 7-2 vote, rejected an appeal in which he argued the electric chair is cruel and unusual punishment.

LAUNCHES DELAYED: High wind forced the military to postpone launch of a rocket that will unreel a 121/2-mile cord in space. The delay, in turn, forced NASA to bump shuttle Columbia's liftoff from Sunday to Monday. The unmanned Delta rock-et with a military navigation satellite and a NASA tether experiment was supposed to lift off Thursday night. It was rescheduled for Friday night. Columbia's liftoff was rescheduled for 7:51 a.m. MST Monday.

GANG CRIMES: Eight high school students have been arrested in Lakewood, Calif., in the molestation or rape of girls as young as 10 to amass points in their gang, investigators said. The eight suspects, ages 15 to 18, were members of the Spurs Posse, a gang that evolved from a sports club at Lakewood High School, authorities said Thursday.

In Washington

NOT INCOME: An 84-year-old Arizona widow won't have to pay tripled rent for her federally subsidized apartment after federal housing officials decided her Holocaust reparation money from the German government shouldn't count as income. The Department of Housing and Urban Development decided Thursday it would not require Fanny Schlomowitz, 83, and other Holocaust survivors to report reparations as income while they live in public housing.

ABORTION RIGHTS: A House judiciary subcommittee has approved a bill that would put abortion rights into federal law in the event Roe vs. Wade is ever overturned. On a voice vote, the House judiciary subcommittee on civil and constitutional rights approved the Freedom of Choice Act on Thursday.