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Buildings included in hate crime law

ALBANY (AP) -- A person can be guilty of a hate crime even if the violence is directed at a building rather than a person, New York's top court ruled Tuesday.

The Court of Appeals unanimously said the stricter penalties imposed for such crimes apply to a man convicted of trying to bomb a Bronx synagogue in 2000. "It is self-evident that, although the target of the defendant's criminal conduct was a building, the true victims were the individuals of Jewish faith who were members of the synagogue," Judge Victoria Graffeo wrote. She upheld rulings by the trial court and a midlevel court on a state statute enacted in 2000.

Mazin Assi, 30, is serving 5 to 15 years in prison.



Anti-poverty effort shows limited success

NEW YORK (AP) -- An experimental anti-poverty program that pays the poor for maintaining good habits -- $25 to $150 for things such as going to the dentist, staying on the job or opening a bank account -- has not exactly been life-changing.

The cash incentives funded with private donations have helped some New Yorkers make better choices. But the program has not encouraged young people to do better in school or adults to keep a job.

The first analysis of New York's effort was released Tuesday by a nonprofit social policy research group called MDRC that also helped design the program.

New York City's program began in 2007 and has bestowed a total of $14 million on 2,400 participating families. The payments were modeled after successful similar programs in other countries, including Mexico and Brazil. The program "doesn't work in every case," Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said.



Man goes on trial in wife's murder

ITHACA (AP) -- Jury selection has begun in the murder trial of a New Zealand man charged with stabbing his wife to death on a state park trail last year.

Blazej Kot is on trial in Tompkins County Court in Ithaca for the slaying of Caroline Coffey, 28, a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University. Kot was a graduate student at the Ivy League school at the time of the slaying.

Authorities said Kot cut Coffey's throat June 2 on a trail in an Ithaca-area state park. Police said Kot, 25, from Auckland set fire to the couple's apartment to cover up the crime.

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