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News Briefs, part 2

Serious Crimes in U.S. Dropped 3 Percent in '93, FBI Says

By Ronald D. Ostrow
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON

With Congress poised to enact the broadest anti-crime legislation in a quarter of a century, the FBI said Sunday that serious crimes reported to police dropped 3 percent last year, extending a decline that began in 1992.

The group of crimes that citizens fear most - violent offenses - went down 1 percent last year, reversing climbs of 1 percent in 1992, 5 percent in 1991 and 11 percent in 1990.

While dramatic slayings, resulting from an increase in firepower, may be only a small portion of total murders, they capture "a large portion of attention," said Marcus Felson, a professor of sociology at the University of Southern California.

The decline in property crimes included 6 percent fewer burglaries and arsons, 4 percent fewer motor vehicle thefts and a 2 percent decline in larceny-theft. Cities with populations exceeding 1 million showed the greatest decline, 5 percent, while rural law enforcement agencies reported a 3 percent drop and suburban counties a 2 percent decrease, according to the FBI.

The Northeast posted the biggest drop in reported crime - 5 percent - as against 3 percent less in the Midwest and 2 percent less in both the West and the South.

Felson pointed out that the major changes in the U.S. crime rate took place between 1963 and 1980, and that changes since then have amounted to "zigs and zags at a high level. When crime rates have quadrupled, then 2 percent or 3 percent up or down after that is a kind of a distraction," he said.

Mission to Chart the Moon's Surface Is A Success

By Kathy Sawyer
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON

The Pentagon-funded robot spacecraft Clementine and her motley ground crew, operating out of a converted motor-pool garage in Alexandria, Va., have successfully completed a two-month mission to map the moon's surface in unprecedented detail. Among the revelations are what scientists last week called an "astonishing" depth of 7.5 miles in one of its ancient basins - a record for the solar system.

The unlikely alliance of a few dozen military spacecraft engineers and civilian scientists has accumulated radar data, still being analyzed, that may reveal the presence of ice in a permanently shadowed spot at the lunar South Pole. They have surveyed the moon's mineral composition, measured small variations in its gravity, provided new insights as to how its craters formed and deciphered new detail in that poetically barren crust.

Tuesday at 6:20 p.m. EDT, controllers will command the spacecraft to fire its rocket for four minutes and kick itself out of lunar orbit, loop back around Earth and head for its next target - the small asteroid 1620 Geographos - for a late-August rendezvous. Along the way, in July, the team hopes its cameras will observe the anticipated impact on the planet Jupiter of a train of comet fragments.