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NEWS CAPSULES

Around the world

LONDON CRIME: Street crime, including muggings and bag-snatchings, rose by 41 percent in central London over the past year, a local council reported Friday. Westminster council, whose responsibility includes the key tourist areas around the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park, called its findings alarming. "The figures are surprising because they are clearly out of step with other crimes such as burglary, which have shown a dramatic decrease," said Simon Milton, deputy leader of the council.CLAIM REAFFIRMED: Vietnam's National Assembly reaffirmed the country's claim to disputed islands in the South China Sea that are also claimed by China, official reports said Friday. The assembly, which ended its first session of the year Thursday, also passed laws to spur investment, legalize strikes and intensify military training for schoolboys, the state-run Vietnam News reported. Vietnam intends to negotiate the dispute, primarily with China, over who owns the Spratly and Paracel Islands, the People's Army newspaper said. Both countries claim the island groups, which are believed to contain valuable oil and gas deposits.

Across the nation

SENTENCED: A Detroit woman was sentenced Friday to life in prison without parole for arranging the murder of her gulf war veteran husband so she could collect on his $150,000 life insurance policy. Toni Cato Riggs was convicted June 8 of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the March 1991 slaying of Army Spc. Anthony Riggs. The slaying, just 10 days after Riggs returned from the Persian Gulf War, drew national attention over the irony of his safe return from battle only to die in what originally was thought to be random urban violence.

HIV SUIT: The American Association of Blood Banks was ordered to pay $570,000 to a man who contracted the AIDS virus in what is believed to be the first successful HIV lawsuit against the group that sets the nation's blood-screening standards. A Bergen County Superior Court jury, in Trenton, N.J., ordered the association Thursday to pay William Snyder $405,000 in compensatory damages and an estimated $165,000 in interest. Snyder, 67, said he contracted the human immunodeficiency virus from a blood transfusion following heart surgery in 1984.