Briefing: Church fire investigated as hate crime

Burned pews, destroyed musical instruments, Bibles and hymnals are part of the debris inside the fire damaged Hopewell M.B. Baptist Church in Greenville, Mississippi. Photo / AP
Burned pews, destroyed musical instruments, Bibles and hymnals are part of the debris inside the fire damaged Hopewell M.B. Baptist Church in Greenville, Mississippi. Photo / AP

'We feel the quote is intimidating'
A historic black church in Mississippi has been burned and spray-painted with "Vote Trump" and authorities are treating it as a hate crime. Greenville Fire Chief Ruben Brown says investigators believe the fire at the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church was "intentionally set". No one was injured. "We're investigating this as a hate crime," Greenville Police Chief Delando Wilson said. "We feel that the quote on the church is intimidating. It tries to push your beliefs on someone else, and this is a predominantly black church and no one has a right to try to influence the way someone votes in this election."

Suspect familiar to police
The man suspected of killing two Iowa police officers was a familiar face to law enforcement, convicted of minor crimes and expelled from a high school football game last month after waving a Confederate battle flag. Scott Michael Greene, 46, pleaded guilty to harassment charges two years ago and was put on probation, according to court records.

In 2001 he was charged with assault for throwing a soft drink can out the window of a vehicle in a case that was later dropped, records show. Greene has been forcibly removed more than once from public school property for unspecified reasons. Police said he shot and killed two officers sitting in their patrol cars. What led to the shootings remained unclear.

Dog off death row
A Michigan dog who spent weeks on death row has returned home after DNA tests cleared him in the death of Vlad, a dog next door. Jeb, a Belgian Malinois, was released to his owner. Kenneth Job was emotional, saying his dog looks "awful skinny but he's alive." Jeb was seen standing over Vlad's body on August 25 in St Clair Township, 80km northeast of Detroit. Authorities said the Pomeranian's injuries suggest he was picked up and shaken by a larger animal. A judge ordered that Jeb be euthanised. But he also agreed to DNA tests on Vlad's body. The result: No DNA from Jeb.

Terror raids
An alleged terrorist fighter and a teenage boy have been arrested in Sydney's southwest by the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team. According to media reports a 24-year-old man who has previously fought in Syria was arrested in Birrong after his car was intercepted by police. A 16-year-old boy was also been arrested. NSW Police confirmed raids were being carried out as part of an ongoing investigation, but there was no direct threat to the community.

Australia settled earlier
Aboriginal Australians settled in arid parts of the country 49,000 years ago, a rock shelter in South Australia's Flinders Ranges has revealed. Remnants of plants, ochre and bones, including one from a rhino-sized marsupial, are among 4300 artefacts uncovered at the site about 550km north of Adelaide. Some are up to 49,000 years old, research led by La Trobe University archeologist Giles Hamm and published in the journal Nature shows. The artefacts show Australia's first peoples lived in the country's harsh interior 10,000 years earlier than previous findings had proved.


Children leave Calais
Some 1600 child migrants stuck in Calais have been taken to processing centres across France more than a week after "Jungle" clearances began. Thirty-eight buses organised by French authorities took the unaccompanied minors from containers they had been staying in to 60 locations. British officials can now decide whether they have the right to UK asylum while the others would be put in the care of French child welfare services, President Francois Hollande has said. It is believed around 300 remaining women and children will be bused out from tonight.

Mosques closed
France's Interior Minister has ordered the closure of four mosques that allegedly espoused a 'radical ideology,' the latest such shutdowns among dozens since the Paris attacks nearly a year ago. A state of emergency in France allows for the closing of places of worship where the preaching risks provoking hate, violence or acts of terrorism.

Syria pause offered
The Russian President offered a new unilateral humanitarian pause for Syria's war-ravaged Aleppo, urging rebels to use it to leave the city's eastern, besieged districts. The Syrian rebels quickly dismissed Vladimir Putin's initiative. Later in the day, at least eight civilians were killed in presumed government or Russian air strikes on the rebel-held town of Saraqib in Idlib province, a local search-and-rescue outfit reported. Putin ordered his forces to open humanitarian corridors to eastern Aleppo this Saturday, with two routes for rebels to leave the city.

Gingerbread swastikas
A German retail chain is pulling gingerbread house Christmas ornaments from its shelves because some versions were painted with what appears to be a swastika. German chain Butlers said confusion among customers, apparently triggered by the Nazi symbol painted on the gables of pink, glitter-bespeckled houses. The unfortunate oversight was first reported by German broadcaster WDR. "Of course we don't want to sell any product that can be connected to the swastika symbol," Butlers spokeswoman Catherine Kunze said. The ornaments were hand-painted abroad, which Kunze said led to varying results.

- agencies

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