Listen X 00:00 /01:12 Share Free ImagesThe Texas Senate has held its first hearing on the “sermon safeguard” bill (SB 24). The bill would make it illegal for Texas or local governments to subpoena a sermon from a religious leader, or to compel testimony about a sermon’s contents.The measure stems in large part from the fight over the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance or HERO. Supporters argue the bill is necessary, in light of former Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s 2014 attempt to subpoena the sermons of five pastors seeking HERO’s repeal.“Most people of faith are not going to know what to do in these situations,” said Jonathan Saenz, president of the religious advocacy group Texas Values, who testified in favor of the bill. “And as I’ve seen in my work for close to two decades in law and public policy, that if you don’t have something specific in law, some people are going to use that, to intimidate and make people believe that they have to follow their view on this issue.”Legal scholars argue the bill would do little to protect religious liberty beyond what is already guaranteed by the First Amendment.“[Mayor Parker’s] subpoena requests were obviously overbroad and overburdensome and violated principles of religious freedom,” said Charles “Rocky” Rhodes, a professor of constitutional law at South Texas College of Law Houston. “But that kind of overbroad request is both very, very rare and can be taken care of under existing doctrines.” Even when such requests are made, he said, they’re typically quashed by the court.The now-defunct HERO aimed to prevent discrimination against LGBT individuals in public accommodations. The Texas Senate is now considering SB 6, often referred to as the “bathroom bill,” to prevent local governments from adopting such ordinances. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has identified both bills among his top priorities for the current legislative session. To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code:
Andrew McPhatter was fatally shot in Southeast D.C. on March 1. (Courtesy Photo)A recent wave of violence in Southeast, D.C. left one man dead after six shootings took place in a span of seven days. Six people were shot along Wheeler Road and one was murdered between Feb. 23 and March 1 as D.C. police roll out initiatives to keep illegal guns off the streets.On Feb. 23 four people were shot in three separate incidents within two hours on Wheeler Road. On Feb. 27, a woman was struck by gunfire in another Wheeler Road shooting. “We should not be losing our young men to gun violence in our city,” Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham said March 6 at a community meeting at Eagle Academy Public Charter School. “Every single time that we have a young man that’s killed in Washington, D.C. I see their picture and every single time I see that picture a piece of my heart chips away.”The gunfire ended with the fatal shooting of Andrew McPhatter, 28, on March 1. According to police, McPhatter was shot and wounded in the 3500 block of Wheeler Road, SE around 10:50 a.m. Police said they were in the Congress Heights neighborhood when they heard the sound of several gunshots.Authorities searched the area and found a Buick GS 350 stopped in the middle of the road. Inside of the vehicle was McPhatter siting in the front passenger seat bleeding and suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, police said. McPhatter was transported to a local hospital in critical condition. He died on March 5.Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Karimah Bilal told the AFRO on March 6 that no arrests have been made and there is no further information in the case. However, law enforcement officials said 27 illegal firearms were removed from District streets the week between Feb. 27 and March 6.ANC Commissioner for Ward 8B02 Paul Trantham told the AFRO March 7 that gun recovery isn’t enough to end violence in Southeast D.C. “We are witnessing gun violence day and night,” Trantham said. “They are saying they are recovering guns, but they aren’t saying where they coming from and how these kids are getting them.”Trantham also said police understaffing is another issue the city is dealing with. According to Trantham, the police force, currently staffed with about 3,700 officers, needs to increase to 4,200.He asked Mayor Muriel Bowser to hire more patrollers and place additional plain clothed officers in high crime areas, and that she didn’t fulfill his request. “I feel as though the city council and mayor are letting citizens down,” said Trantham. He said the mayor is “numb” to the violence in ward 7 and ward 8, and not facing the reality of the brutality in the area.A response to Trantham’s accusation was not received from the mayor’s office before press time.In January, Council member Vincent Gray introduced a bill to increase the number of police officers and increase retention bonuses until the force’s population reached Gray’s goal of 4,200. The “Force of 4,200” bill has not passed.
LATTE attended an intimate lunch with Trails of Indochina (TOI) and select travel advisers on Thursday 8 December to hear the latest news, including its new incentive programme for agents.TOI offer bespoke itineraries throughout South East Asia ranging from one-day to three weeks and have recently launched new high-end adventure tours which can incorporate trekking, cycling and even dirt bike riding in select destinations.Kirsty Thomas-Thoeun hosted the event at Mekong Restaurant in Chippendale and introduced the ‘fam-tastic’ incentive for agents.Luxury travel advisers can earn up to $1500 to spend on land arrangements with TOI by making new bookings between 15 December 2016 to 31 March 2017 with departures until 30 June 2017.A total booking value of AU $10,000 in combined departed and forward bookings by 31 March 2017 will receive $500, $20,000 earns $1000 and agents with bookings in excess of $30,000 will receive $1500 to spend.For full terms and conditions please email firstname.lastname@example.org.