Around the world

MIDEAST: Four Israeli soldiers and a Palestinian were injured in three separate incidents Thursday, the seventh anniversary of the founding of the Islamic militant group Hamas. The Israeli army and police called in extra patrols and canceled all leaves in anticipation of the occasion. Hamas, the main rival to the Palestine Liberation Organization, opposes peace with Israel and has carried out a string of attacks on Israelis, including the October bombing of a Tel Aviv bus. In Deir Al-Balah in the autonomous Gaza Strip, about 2,000 Hamas members marked the anniversary at an unruly rally where speakers demanded that Israel release their spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, or face further bloody attacks.KILLER COP: Vietnam's highest court upheld the death sentence Thursday for a policeman convicted of murder, a ruling welcomed by citizens more used to cover-ups of official crime. The chief justice's announcement over a loudspeaker was greeted with cheers and applause from some 5,000 people who overflowed from the courtyard into the street outside the Supreme Court building. Lt. Nguyen Tung Duong, 37, had asked the court to overturn his October conviction for murder with intent to commit robbery in the shooting death of a young Hanoi businessman.

Across the nation

J-A-I-L: A graffiti artist who inflicted $1 million in damage on subways, statues and buildings is heading to jail. Robert Morrissey, 19, received a one- to three-year sentence Wednesday from New York state Justice James Robinson. Morrissey pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal mischief on Oct. 31. Mary de Bourbon, a district attorney spokeswoman, said he admitted "scrawling his `nom-de-graffiti' - `DESA' - all over" the borough of Queens.

DETECTIVE? The man accused of a fatally shooting six people on a commuter train wants taxpayers to pay for an investigator to find the person he claims is the real killer. Colin Ferguson, who was wrestled to the ground by passengers after the rampage on a Long Island Rail Road train, asked a Mineola, N.Y., judge Wednesday to let him hire a private detective. Previous attorneys for Ferguson, who is acting as his own attorney, said he should be declared incompetent for trial and did not contest that he was the gunman.