N.H. court limits use of money from tax credit
CONCORD, N.H. — A judge has declared New Hampshire’s new scholarship program unconstitutional but allowed it to continue as long as none of the money goes to religious schools.
Under the program created last summer, businesses get tax credits for donating to a private organization that awards scholarships to students attending either private or public schools.
The program’s supporters argue it would provide educational choice to low-income parents, while opponents have cast it as a back-door voucher system that diverts taxpayer money to religious schools.
Man reportedly admits to Vegas church arson
LAS VEGAS — Police say a 35-year-old man who admitted to setting fire to a Las Vegas church told them the pastor tried to “back door him” and was “not keeping it real.”
A police report sheds more light on the arrest of 35-year-old Adrian Kincade, who was booked into Clark County jail on arson and burglary charges after the fire earlier this month.
Officials say the building is used by Nellis Baptist Church and Mission International Roca Eterna.
Streisand criticizes treatment of women
JERUSALEM — Entertainer Barbra Streisand waded into one of Israel’s touchiest issues last week on the first major stop of her tour of the country: Jewish religious practices that separate men and women.
Speaking at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Monday, where she received an honorary doctorate, she took aim at cases of ultra-Orthodox Jews targeting women, even as she warmly praised the country.
“I realize it’s not easy to fully grasp the dynamics of what happens in a foreign land,” she said.
But “it’s distressing to read about women in Israel being forced to sit in the back of the bus or when we hear about `Women of the Wall’ having metal chairs thrown at them when they attempt to peacefully and legally pray.”
Jewish fund, Germany agree on aid for victims
BERLIN — A fund for Jewish victims of Nazi crimes says it has reached an agreement with the German government for Berlin to provide some $1 billion in homecare for victims.
A spokeswoman for the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany said recently that about 56,000 survivors in about 46 different countries will receive financial support under the agreement for a four-year-period from 2014-17.
Hillary Kessler-Godin, speaking by phone from the fund’s New York office, said the amount of financial aid for each person will depend on individual needs and circumstances.
Groups sue over NYC post-9/11 surveillance
WASHINGTON — Civil rights lawyers urged a U.S. judge to declare the New York Police Department’s widespread spying programs directed at Muslims to be unconstitutional, order police to stop their surveillance and destroy any records in police files.
In a lawsuit filed last week, the lawyers said the spying has hindered the ability of residents to freely practice their religion. It is the third significant legal action filed against the department’s Muslim surveillance program since details of the spy program were revealed in a series of Associated Press reports in 2011 and 2012.
The lawsuit said that Muslim religious leaders in New York have modified their sermons and other behavior so as not to draw additional police attention. The suit was filed against Mayor Michael Bloomberg, police commissioner Raymond Kelly and the deputy commissioner of intelligence, David Cohen.
Jordan treaty with UK may lead to deportation
AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan’s King Abdullah II has endorsed a treaty with Britain that sets the stage for the possible deportation of radical Muslim preacher Abu Qatada.
Last week, Jordan’s parliament ratified the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance, intended to ease human rights concerns preventing the deportation of the cleric, whose real name is Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman, from Britain to Jordan.
Abdullah’s endorsement came in a royal decree published in Jordanian newspapers Tuesday.
Since 2001, successive British governments tried to deport Abu Qatada, but courts there blocked extradition over concerns that evidence obtained under torture could be used against him.
Recently, Abu Qatada said he’d go to Jordan voluntarily if the treaty is ratified.
He is wanted in Jordan for retrial in several terror cases in which he was sentenced in absentia.