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US priest accused of raping teen in 1975 not fit to stand trial, psychiatrists say

Priest accused of rape is not fit to stand trial

A 92-year-old retired Catholic priest charged with strangling a teenager and raping him in a New Orleans church in 1975 has short-term memory loss that prevents him from assisting in his defense, according to a team of forensic psychiatrists whose findings could influence whether one of Louisiana’s most prominent cases of clergy abuse is ever tried.

In a report which has not been publicly released but was reviewed Tuesday by WWL Louisiana and the Guardian, the psychiatrists said the priest – Lawrence Hecker – should not be tried for now on rape, kidnapping, crimes against nature and theft charges until he is re-evaluated later.

However, the report found Hecker’s mental health is good enough that he could recover his competence to stand trial after a relatively short time. It called for him to be re-evaluated in a matter of months, after he is given a chance to recover from various physical ailments and to be given treatment by the state’s mental health hospital.


Tennessee Lawmakers Pass Bill To Allow Armed Teachers A Year After Shooting

Tennessee legislature passes gun for teachersProtesters chanted “Blood on your hands” at Tennessee House Republicans on Tuesday after they passed a bill that would allow some teachers and staff to carry concealed handguns on public school grounds, and bar parents and other teachers from knowing who was armed.

The 68-28 vote in favor of the bill sent it to Republican Gov. Bill Lee for consideration. If he signs it into law, it would be the biggest expansion of gun access in the state since last year’s deadly shooting at a private elementary school in Nashville.

Members of the public who oppose the bill harangued Republican lawmakers after the vote, leading House Speaker Cameron Sexton to order the galleries cleared.


‘Where are they supposed to sleep?’: US supreme court appears divided on key homelessness case

Where are they supposed to sleep?

The debate over how US cities can respond to America’s spiraling homelessness crisis reached the supreme court this week, as justices heard arguments over the constitutionality of local laws used against unhoused people sleeping outside.

The justices on Monday considered a challenge to rulings from a California-based appeals court that found punishing people for sleeping outside when shelter space is lacking amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

The case stems from a 2019 camping ban enacted by city officials in Grants Pass, a small mountain town in Oregon where rents are rising and where there is just one overnight shelter for adults. Debra Blake, who had lost her job a decade earlier and was unhoused, was cited for illegal camping. After being convicted and fined, she soon joined other unhoused residents in suing the city.


Columbia Cancels In-Person Classes As Pro-Palestinian Protests Sprout Across Campuses

Columbia U classes stoppedColumbia University canceled in-person classes on Monday and new demonstrations broke out on other U.S. college campuses as tensions continue to grow over Israel’s war in Gaza.

Police arrested several dozen protesters at Yale University on Monday morning after officials at the New Haven, Connecticut, school said they defied warnings over the weekend to leave.

And following arrests last week at Columbia, pro-Palestinian demonstrators set up encampments on other campuses around the country, including at the University of Michigan, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of North Carolina.

The developments came hours before the Monday evening start of the Jewish holiday of Passover.



Anti-abortion states are targeting an emergency healthcare law. Will the supreme court side with them?

SCOTUS to debate aemergency abortion lawOne of the only universal rights to healthcare in the US is to be treated in the emergency room – a place where doctors are required to stabilize patients if their future health or life is in serious jeopardy.

That right, guaranteed by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, known across the country by healthcare professionals as Emtala, was borne out of what was once a common practice called “patient dumping” – transferring patients who could not pay from private hospitals to public counterparts, even in emergency situations.

“There were many reasons it was enacted,” said Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law at George Washington University’s Milken Institute of Public Health, and an attorney who helped craft the Emtala law.

“One was because people were dumping [patients] who were uninsured, but another reason – and it was in the congressional record – was pregnant women who were being turned away,” she said.


Suspected drunk driver crashes into Michigan birthday party, killing children

Drunk driver crashes into birthday partyA young brother and sister died and several people were injured, some of them seriously, when a vehicle driven by a suspected drunken driver crashed into a young child’s birthday party on Saturday at a boat club, according to a Michigan sheriff.

An eight-year-old girl and her five-year-old brother died at the scene, when a 66-year-old woman crashed 25ft into the building at about 3pm at the Swan Creek Boat Club in Berlin Township, about 30 miles (48km) south of Detroit, the Monroe county sheriff, Troy Goodnough, said.

“The scene was described by the first responders as extremely chaotic, with a high level of emotions of those directly involved and those who witnessed this horrific incident,” he said.

Three children and six adults were taken to area hospitals by two helicopters or ambulances, some with life-threatening injuries, he said. Others injured were given first aid at the scene, and some of them were taken to hospitals by private vehicles.


Man Who Set Himself On Fire Outside Trump Trial Dies Of Injuries: Police

man who set himself on fire dies

The man was in Collect Pond Park around 1:30 p.m. Friday when he took out pamphlets espousing conspiracy theories, tossed them around, then doused himself in an accelerant and set himself on fire, officials and witnesses said.

A large number of police officers were nearby when it happened. Some officers and bystanders rushed to the aid of the man, who was hospitalized in critical condition at the time.

The man, who police said recently traveled from Florida to New York, had not breached any security

The park outside the courthouse has been a gathering spot for protesters, journalists and gawkers throughout Trump’s trial, which began with jury selection Monday.checkpoints to access the park.


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