Netanyahu slows contentious Jewish nationality bill

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday staved off a potential splintering of his governing coalition, at least for now, with an agreement to delay bringing a contentious nationality bill before the Knesset, or parliament.

A vote on the nationality measure, which had been approved Sunday by the Cabinet, could have led to a parliamentary showdown and triggered early elections. Lawmakers were originally scheduled to take up the measure Wednesday.

The bill designates Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.


Fire chief suspended for anti-gay book comments

Atlanta’s fire chief has been suspended after city officials say he violated policy by self-publishing a book that describes homosexuality as a “perversion.”

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says in a statement Monday that Kelvin Cochran will be suspended for a month without pay and will be required to complete sensitivity training.

Reed says he was “deeply disturbed” after learning about the book on Friday and will not tolerate discrimination within his administration.


Lawmaker calls for review of $219,000 table purchase

A New Jersey lawmaker is calling for a review of a state university’s purchase of a $219,000 custom-built, multimedia conference table from a company in China, where it has a campus it hopes to expand.

Kean University did not put the project out to bid and picked a company in Shanghai, The Record newspaper reported. The northern New Jersey school recently opened a branch campus in China that university President Dawood Farahi hopes to expand.

“Whether or not this is legal, it’s certainly not ethical and it’s a waste of taxpayer money,” Assemblyman Joe Cryan said in a statement.

The 22-foot circular table seats 23 people and is made of oak with cherry veneer. The university said the price tag also includes lighting, data ports, gooseneck microphones, an illuminated world map and a motorized, two-tiered glass turntable.


Confession ruled admissible in killing of 6-year-old boy

A suspect’s confession to choking a 6-year-old boy to death in 1979 may be used at his murder trial, a judge ruled Monday, allowing prosecutors to use what appears to be their key evidence in one of the nation’s most notorious missing children’s cases.

The suspect, Pedro Hernandez, 53, has pleaded not guilty to killing 6-year-old Etan Patz, one of the first missing children ever pictured on a milk carton.


Search underway for man who fell off cruise ship

An air search was underway Tuesday for an 84-year-old passenger who went overboard overnight from a cruise ship east of Sydney.

The man went overboard at 9 p.m. local time on Monday off the Sun Princess 175 miles east of Sydney, search manager Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokesman Mal Larsen said Tuesday.

The cruise ship, which is operated by Princess Cruises, had remained in the area rather than continue to Sydney where it was due on Tuesday, Larsen said.

– From news service reports