Voters were less impressed with the news media — 47 percent approved of the media’s response to the storms while 30 percent disapproved — and with insurance companies. A majority had neutral or no opinion about insurance companies’ responses; a fuller ruling on that will probably follow experiences with damage claims.More than two of every five Texas voters said they or someone close to them was directly affected by Hurricane Harvey.Voters were divided when asked whether federal relief should be available in the future for people who rebuild homes in frequently flooded areas. Democrats (49 percent) were more likely to say yes to that than Republicans (32 percent). Black voters (53 percent) and Hispanic voters (49 percent) were more likely to answer yes than white voters (31 percent). Tea Party Republicans were the most likely to oppose future federal relief for those who rebuild in flood-prone areas; 60 percent don’t like that idea.Did climate change contribute to the severity of recent hurricanes that hit Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Puerto Rico? Yes, according to 45 percent of voters; no, said 42 percent. And the answers to that question were closely linked to the political preferences of the respondents. Among Republicans, 16 percent said climate change worsened the storms while 72 percent said it didn’t. Among Democrats, the answers flipped: 80 percent yes, 8 percent no. Independents were more like Republicans, but more evenly divided: 37 percent said yes, 46 percent said no.“It’s fascinating that age, education and other such variables are swamped by ideology here,” said Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll and a government professor at UT-Austin. “I think what has happened is that this is an issue where the debate (and the science surrounding it) get politicized such that party cues dominate the perceptions of voters. On issues directly involving government spending and/or regulation — even those where scientific expertise is an obvious factor — ideology is much more readily tied to attitudes.”The high approval ratings for state and local government come at a time of some tension between those institutions. The Texas Legislature earlier this year debated a considerable number of bills that would have constrained local governments and/or asserted state control over issues often handled locally. But when it comes to issues of trust — whether government is careful or careless with tax dollars, or addresses or ignores the needs of Texans — voters didn’t make much distinction between the state and local regimes. Graphic by Bryant Ju and Ryan MurphyFor Hurricane Harvey recovery, Texans want federal, state and local officials to focus on debris cleanup and disposal, housing, public health and environmental contamination, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.Texas voters said other problems brought on by the historic storm — transportation, public education, unemployment and damage to local businesses — are extremely or somewhat important to them, but their first priorities are cleaning up and making sure everyone is okay.That showed in their assessments of how others responded to the effects of the storm: 86 percent lauded the response of the people of Texas, and large majorities thought highly of the actions of local and state governments. The federal government’s responses won approval from 57 percent of the respondents.“Texans love how Texans did,” said Jim Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. He said Republicans and Democrats alike approved of local government responses but that Republicans were much more likely than Democrats to approve of the state and federal government responses. “They were far more positive,” he said. The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from October 6 to October 15 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Numbers in charts might not add up to 100 percent because of rounding. That said, they didn’t exactly fawn over either source of authority: Voters were more likely to say state government is more careful handling tax dollars, but only a minority said either government was mostly careful. Similarly, less than half of voters said state or local government mostly addresses the needs of Texans.“Your attitudes on federalism are closely tied to which level of government shares your partisan and ideological orientation. There is evidence of that here,” Shaw said. “The overall ambivalence of the numbers reflects two contradictory facts: Most voters are suspicious of government and its ability to work effectively, but most voters in Texas have conservative representation at the state and local levels, which makes them feel somewhat better about their elected officials.”Tea Party voters skewed those numbers in favor of the state government, Henson said. “72 percent of Tea Party Republicans say state government is careful with tax dollars — a clear indication that the message [from Austin] is resonating with its intended target.” Share
X Listen 00:00 /04:05 Video Playerhttps://cdn.hpm.io/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/17100915/Bricks-2017-11-17-at-10.04am.mp400:0000:0000:48Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume. Allison LeeMuslim congregants gather for Friday prayer, at the River Oaks Islamic Center. Congregants gathered for Friday prayer, at the River Oaks Islamic Center. Over a hundred pairs of shoes, from cowboy boots to Birkenstock’s, were neatly lined up along the wall. After prayers, many congregants wrote out cards of solidarity and condolence, for the victims of the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs. “You feel like you’re one community who worships God, at the end of the day,” Imam Mubeen Khumawala said. “If one place of worship is under attack, you feel all places of worship are under attack. You definitely feel a fraternal spirit among all faith groups…. We all are going through the same struggle.”– / 8Khumawala said the past couple of years, the mosque has added security guards at times when the most people gather. They also installed security cameras.“We’re able to lock our doors using iPhones and whatnot, as well,” said Khumawala. “I don’t think at this mosque, in particular, there has been need for more security…. [The Sutherland Springs shooting] is another reminder for us to be cognizant of our surroundings.”Allison Lee“We have to look after one another… as a community, period,” said Michael Demaris, head of security for the River Oaks Islamic Center.Outside the mosque, Michael Demaris was monitoring the perimeter and guiding traffic. He said he has been head of security for the mosque, for the past four years.“Sister, how far did you park? I’m going to walk with you,” Demaris said to an elderly congregant.Demaris said a community-approach to safety is paramount.“I’ve given safety talks. I’m an instructor for an NRA program called “Refuse to Be a Victim”. It’s an NRA program that’s a non-gun program, that’s a safety awareness program,” Demaris said. “We had one here back in July. It was an hour and a half, two-hour seminar. We had a self-defense demonstration by another gentleman, who is a martial arts instructor.”ISGH River Oaks Islamic CenterKarate and Dojo Instructor Ehab Ahmed Samurai explains self-defense moves to Muslim congregants.Hasan Gapolani, a board member at the River Oaks Islamic Center, helped organize that self-defense class. He said it’s sad they have to take those measures, but they have to adjust to protect themselves.“There’s just a general sense of fear that pervaded the Muslim community. And it has since 9/11; there’s been a backlash against the Muslim community. So, slowly but surely, that fear has led to action. Action in the sense of beefing up security at the mosque,” said Gapolani. “We’ve had a self-defense class here, which was attended by about 40 people, just a few months back. So, we’ve tried to really take care of ourselves and our community.”– / 4 To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: Share Video Playerhttps://cdn.hpm.io/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/17095025/praying.mp400:0000:0000:24Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Dena Marks, Associate Director for The Southwest Regional office of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), said the civil rights group offers security training and seminars to Jewish institutions, along with various other places of worship.“Religious institutions have historically been a target of hate. And particularly Jewish institutions. That’s one of the reasons why ADL has created security resources for religious institutions,” Marks said. Allison Lee“Preparation is always the most important thing,” Dena Marks said. She also said it’s important to remain observant of suspicious behavior.Marks said they hold training sessions for Jewish institutions two to three times a year, generally around Holy Days, where more Jewish congregants gather.The ADL has recorded a 67 percent increase in anti-Semitic hate incidents this year, nationwide. And Marks said because of what happened in Sutherland Springs, the ADL wanted to remind religious institutions that security is very important, and they should always be aware of those policies and procedures. “Religious institutions want to be welcoming to everybody. But that’s a double-edged sword,” Marks said. “Because, if you’re warm and welcoming, someone might want to come in who wants to do harm. So, we have to be mindful of security.”Reverend Bob Goolsby, senior pastor at an Episcopal church in the Spring Branch area, said while they have discussed doing things like locking doors during services, he was concerned about keeping the church open and welcoming.“We’re not going to set up a Fort Knox. We’re not going to create a community here that’s cut off from people who need to be here,” said Reverend Goolsby. “Because even as broken as the world is that we live in, we need to be available to all people and be an open place for them.”M.J. Khan, President of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, agrees. He said it’s unfortunate there has to be security at places of worship, but people need to also feel secure and be at peace.“We cannot make our place of worship fortresses. Having said that, we live in an era where security needs to be addressed,” Khan said. “A mosque is considered a house of Lord, opened to all, all the time. For people to come and pray as they please. So, that’s what we’ve been practicing; even with the current situation. And we hope that we’ll continue to have it that way.”– / 3
Fun, fashion and fundraising are on the menu for the 6th Annual Pink Hat Tea, “Committed to Scholarship and Service: Our Legacy Continues,” on May 31, hosted by the Pearl and Ivy Educational Foundation in collaboration with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Xi Omega Chapter. Attendees will enjoy tea service, entertainment, hat/neckwear fashion show and a silent auction. The fundraiser will be held at the Marriott Wardman Park, 2660 Woodley Rd N.W., starting at noon. A portion of proceeds will be donated to the Pearl and Ivy Educational Foundation, the chapter’s 501(c)(3) entity, to provide scholarships for local high school and college students. Tickets cost $85. Sponsorship opportunities are also available for businesses and groups. To purchase tickets and become a sponsor, visit 2015pinkhattea.eventbrite.com. For more information, contact Pink Hat Tea Chairman Dr. Daphne King at firstname.lastname@example.org or 240-543-6242.
By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, email@example.comNational Harbor may have been the target of a terrorist plot that was thwarted by authorities. Federal officials have charged Rondell Henry, 28, of Germantown, who allegedly planned to drive a truck into a crowd at the popular recreational and tourist destination in Oxon Hill.Federal prosecutors say Henry plotted to drive a stolen U-Haul truck into pedestrians after being inspired by the Islamic State and planned to use the truck as a weapon against “disbelievers,” according to numerous reports. Henry was apparently trying to follow the script of previous attacks in Nice, France and New York City.Rondell Henry, 28, was allegedly planning to drive a truck into a crowd at the National Harbor for a terrorist attack. (Courtesy Photo)The tragic French incident took place when a man in a large truck drove into crowds celebrating Bastille Day in 2016, killing 86 people and injuring hundreds. New York City’s fatal attack in 2017 left eight dead and 12 injured when a 29-year-old man from Uzbekistan in Central Asia rented a pickup truck and drove down a busy bicycle path near the World Trade Center in Manhattan.Federal prosecutors claim Henry was inspired by attacks like these after watching videos of them online and “harbored hatred for those who do not practice the Muslim faith.”In late March Henry was the subject of an intense missing persons investigation in Montgomery County after abruptly leaving his job in Germantown then disappearing. The press release acknowledged his family was “concerned for Henry’s physical and emotional welfare.”According to the prosecutor’s charges, the same day that he went incognito, Henry allegedly stole a rented U-Haul van in Alexandria and left his car behind. He allegedly recognized that his car was not large enough to cause the level of damage that he wanted, so he then drove around the area looking for a larger vehicle to steal.The prosecutorial allegations assert Henry drove the van to Dulles International Airport in Virginia and attempted to find a way through security around 5 a.m. March 27. Henry was looking to kill pedestrians “in a way designed for maximum publicity.” After spending two hours at the airport trying to get past security, he decided to take the van to National Harbor.There, according to prosecutors, he parked the van and walked around to observe how he would execute the attack. Henry allegedly changed his plans to drive into pedestrians when saw the small crowd before he broke into a boat to hide in overnight while waiting for larger crowds.However, on the morning of March 28, police found the stolen U-Haul parked at National Harbor. Prince George’s police officers saw Henry jumping over a security fence and arrested him recognizing he was something more than a random trespasser.Prince George’s County police chief Hank Stawinski said that the arresting officers were able to establish that this case was more than just a stolen vehicle and that Henry represented a broader threat to the community.Henry was charged with transporting a stolen vehicle across state lines. He appeared at a detention hearing in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt April 9. A motion to detain Henry ahead of his trial was filed arguing that he is a flight risk and danger to the community. If convicted, Henry could face up to 10 years in prison.For almost two decades authorities have worried about international terrorists attacks inside the United States. Concerns are mounting that the most dangerous terror threats to the U.S. are people living around the nation, with a variety of extremist views.“It’s about going beyond what’s apparent and asking ‘is there more going on here than we’re aware of?” Stawinski said.