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Newsdesk January 13, 2006

Court Passes on Case

The U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition from the American Jewish Congress to review a decision allowing Americorps teachers to teach religion in religious schools. The court did not act on the organization’s petition Monday, essentially denying them a Supreme Court review, after a federal appeals court ruled last year on behalf of the Corporation for National Service, which oversees Americorps, because the government was not using the money to promote religion.

The AJCongress said the payment of $4,725 in financial aid to teachers in religious schools violates the separation of church and state. A lower court had ruled in favor of the AJCongress, saying the process lacked clear criteria or monitoring.

Cleric’s Trial To Begin

The trial of a Muslim cleric in Britain accused of inciting murder against Jews and others is set to begin. Abu Hamza al-Masri faces eight charges of soliciting murder against “non-believers,” including four against Jews. He also is charged with possessing video and audio recordings that he intended to distribute to foment hate. The trial is expected to last at least three weeks. He has pleaded innocent to all charges.

Norwegian Pol Backs Off

Norway’s finance minister, Kristin Halvorsen, apologized for calling for a boycott of Israeli exports. Israel’s embassy in Oslo announced over the weekend it had received an apology for the remarks made by Halvorsen, which drew widespread censure.

U.S. Threatens Iran

The United States threatened to take Iran to the U.N. Security Council over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program. The threat came Tuesday, after Iran resumed nuclear fuel research at a uranium enrichment plant. It’s unclear whether Russia and China, both members of the Security Council, would agree to a discussion of Iran’s nuclear program.

Shin Bet Blames Army

An Israeli security chief blamed a lack of vigilance by the police and the army for the failure to stop settlers from attacking Palestinian olive trees. At a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee session Tuesday where the recent vandalism of West Bank orchards was raised, the chief of Israel’s Shin Bet security services, Yuval Diskin, said there had been advance warning that radical settlers might carry out the attacks. The Shin Bet passed the information to the police and army forces in the West Bank, but it was greeted by “eye-rolling” and inaction, he said.

“This is symptomatic of a failure to enforce the law,” Diskin said.

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