Month: June 2019

24 Jun -

Mississippi church member charged in ‘Vote Trump’ arson

A Mississippi man with a prior criminal record was arrested Wednesday in the burning of an African-American church that was spray-painted with the words “Vote Trump,” and the church’s bishop said the man is a member of the congregation.

The state fire marshal said investigators do not believe the fire was politically motivated, but there a signs it may have been done to appear that way.

ChangSha Night Net

Andrew McClinton, 45, of Leland, Mississippi, is scheduled to make an initial court appearance Thursday in Greenville – the city where Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church was burned and vandalized Nov. 1, a week before the presidential election.

READ MORE: FBI looking into fire at black church which someone tagged with ‘Vote Trump’

McClinton is charged with first degree arson of a place of worship, said Warren Strain, spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.

Hopewell Bishop Clarence Green said McClinton, who is African-American, is a member of the church. Green said he didn’t know about the arrest until he was called by The Associated Press.

“This is the first I have heard of it,” said Green, who said he was attending to other church duties and didn’t have time for a longer interview.

It was not immediately clear whether McClinton is represented by an attorney.

The investigation is continuing, and officials have not revealed a possible motive.

“We do not believe it was politically motivated. There may have been some efforts to make it appear politically motivated,” Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, who is also the fire marshal, told AP.

This is a Mississippi Department of Public Safety provided undated state driver’s license photograph of Andrew McClinton, of Leland, Miss., who was arrested by the Greenville Police Department, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016 in Greenville , Miss., in connection with the Nov. 1, 2016 fire at Greenville’s Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church.

Mississippi Department of Public Safety via AP

Mississippi Department of Corrections records show McClinton was sentenced in 1991 to three years’ probation for a grand larceny conviction in Washington County, where Greenville is the county seat. His probation was revoked in 1992 for receiving stolen property in Greenville, said Department of Corrections spokeswoman Grace Simmons Fisher.

In 1997, McClinton was sentenced to seven years for attempted robbery in Lee County. And, in 2004, he was convicted of armed robbery in Lee County. He served eight years in prison and was released in January 2012. His time served included days he was jailed before trial.

McClinton’s supervision by the department ended in February, the spokeswoman said.

Greenville is a Mississippi River port city of about 32,100 people, and about 78 per cent of its residents are African-American. While it’s not unusual for people of different racial backgrounds to work and eat lunch together, local residents say the congregations at most churches remain clearly identifiable by race.

Greenville Mayor Errick D. Simmons on Wednesday called the church burning “a direct assault on the Hopewell congregation’s right to freely worship.”

“There is no place for this heinous and divisive behaviour in our city,” Simmons said. “We will not rest until the culprit is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We take pride in our work to have a unified city and we look forward in continuing that work.”

Hopewell was founded in 1905 in the heart of an African-American neighbourhood, and the congregation now has about 200 members. While some walls of the beige brick church survived the fire, the empty windows are boarded up and church leaders have said the structure will likely be razed. Rebuilding could take months.

After the fire, Hopewell congregants began worshipping in a chapel at predominantly white First Baptist Church of Greenville. Bishop Green said last month the generosity of First Baptist demonstrates that “unlimited love” transcends social barriers. James Nichols, senior pastor at First Baptist, said the Hopewell members are welcome to stay as long as they need a home.

Greenville is in Washington County, a traditional Democratic stronghold in a solidly Republican state. In the Nov. 8 presidential election, Republican Donald Trump easily carried Mississippi, but Democrat Hillary Clinton received more than twice the vote of Trump in Washington County – 11,380 for Clinton to 5,244 for Trump.

24 Jun -

Uber pulls self-driving cars off San Francisco roads after DMV pulls permits

Uber Technologies Inc has removed its self-driving cars from San Francisco streets, halting the autonomous program one week after its launch as the company faced a regulatory crackdown.

ChangSha Night Net

The California Department of Motor Vehicles said on Wednesday it revoked the registration of 16 Uber self-driving cars because they had not been properly permitted. For the last week, the agency was demanding that Uber shut down its program and comply with regulations requiring a permit to test self-driving cars on public roads.

Uber said it was not obligated to have a permit because its vehicles require continuous monitoring by a person in the car.

READ MORE: Uber launches self-driving fleet in San Francisco despite warning from DMV

San Francisco was supposed to be Uber‘s second testing ground for its self-driving cars. The company unveiled its self-driving cars in September in Pittsburgh.

“We’re now looking at where we can redeploy these cars but remain 100 percent committed to California and will be redoubling our efforts to develop workable statewide rules,” an Uber spokeswoman said in a statement.

WATCH: Uber tracking policy changes raise privacy questions

California defines autonomous vehicles as having the capability to drive “without the active physical control or monitoring of a natural person.”

Uber has argued that the law does not apply to its cars, which cannot stay in autonomous mode continuously. A driver and an engineer are in the front seats to take over frequently in sticky traffic situations such as construction zones or pedestrian crossings.

Uber‘s defiance was met with threats of legal action from the DMV and the state attorney general.

READ MORE: 1 Toronto Uber rider took almost 1,700 trips in 2016

The DMV told Uber that if it had obtained a permit, the regulator would have given the green light to the self-driving pilot. DMV director Jean Shiomoto said in a letter sent to Uber on Wednesday that she would “personally help to ensure an expedited review and approval process,” which she said can take less than three days.

The permit process is largely seen as a public safety measure, as regulations also require that companies provide the DMV with accident reports. Uber, however, has complained that its home state has favored complex rules over technological innovation.

It is not yet clear whether Uber will apply for the permit or simply bring the self-driving cars to another state.

Another 20 companies exploring self-driving cars, including Alphabet’s Google, Tesla Motors and Ford Motor Co, have obtained California DMV permits for 130 cars.

Uber opened up the self-driving car program to San Francisco passengers on Dec. 14, but has been testing the cars on city roadways for more than a month.

24 Jun -

Van explodes outside office of Christian lobbying group in Australia

Van explodes outside office of Christian lobbying group in AustraliaA van carrying gas cylinders exploded outside the headquarters of a Christian lobbying group in Australia’s capital, though there did not appear to be any political or religious motivations behind the incident, police said Thursday.

The driver, a 35-year-old Australian man, was the only person injured in Wednesday night’s explosion, which seriously damaged the van and blew out windows in the two-story building, Australian Capital Territory police said.

ChangSha Night Net

The driver ignited several gas cylinders that were inside the van, causing the explosion, Deputy Chief Police Officer Mark Walters said. He then walked to a hospital, where he was in critical condition with serious burns. Police have not released his name, saying only that he was not previously known to authorities.

“As a result of our conversations with the man, we have been able to establish that his actions were not politically, religiously or ideologically motivated,” Walters told reporters in Canberra.

Walters declined to elaborate on why they have ruled out any sort of political motive, and would not say whether the man had any connection to the Australian Christian Lobby, a conservative advocacy group. An investigation into what prompted him to ignite the cylinders was underway, Walters said.

The head of the Australian Christian Lobby said his group had received anonymous threats over the past year because of its opposition to gay marriage and equality for transgender students.

“I don’t know the motivation of last night’s attack, but the context of what I see here is in the context of multiple death threats and threats of violence that my staff have endured over the course of this year,” managing director Lyle Shelton told reporters.

The group has locked the building for most of this year after never doing so for at least eight years, Shelton said, calling the incident a “truly shocking situation.”

Police said they were investigating the threats against the group.

The van was removed from the scene early Thursday morning.

24 Jun -

B.C. woman allegedly stole Christmas lights off front lawns with help of young girl

Charges are pending against a Delta, B.C. woman who allegedly stole multiple Christmas decorations from the front lawns of unsuspecting homeowners.

“I hear this lady in the middle of the road yelling, ‘Get in the car, get in the car, get in the car,” theft victim Latham Antonissen said.

The alleged Grinch tried to steal Christmas just after 8 p.m. Friday. She may have had some help. Shockingly, a little girl under 10 years of age may have been her accomplice.

ChangSha Night Net

“There’s a little girl in the bush trying to steal their little laser lights that shine into the house,” Antonissen said.

When neighbours came out of their homes, witnesses say the 51-year-old woman left the scene in a vehicle, leaving the young girl to run in the opposite direction.

After being followed for a short distance, the woman was eventually stopped and arrested. Delta Police confirmed there were numerous decorations clearly visible in both the front and back seats of the vehicle.

But this nightmare before Christmas didn’t end there. The suspect did not have a licence to operate a vehicle and refused a breathalyzer test at the scene.

“We have taken a person off the road that was under the influence of alcohol at the time and we’ve notified MCFD [Ministry of Children and Family Development] to ensure the safety and well-being of the young child,” Delta Police spokesperson Sharlene Brooke said.

A charge of possession of stolen property is still pending. The woman was released on a promise to appear in court in February while the young girl is under the care of another guardian.

– With files from John Hua

24 Jun -

Germany monitored Berlin truck attack suspect for six months

German officials had deemed the Tunisian man being sought in a manhunt across Europe a threat long before a truck plowed into a Christmas market in Berlin – and even kept him under covert surveillance for six months this year before halting the operation.

ChangSha Night Net

Now the international manhunt for Anis Amri – considered the prime suspect in Monday’s deadly rampage – is raising questions about how closely German authorities are monitoring the hundreds of known Islamic extremists in the country.

The issue puts new pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is running for re-election next year. Critics are lambasting her for allowing hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers to enter the country, allegedly without proper security checks.

READ MORE: Berlin attack: German police on manhunt for ‘violent and armed’ Tunisian asylum-seeker Anis Amri

Among them was Amri, a convicted criminal in both Tunisia and Italy with little chance of getting asylum who successfully evaded deportation from Germany even as German authorities rejected his asylum application and deemed the 24-year-old a possible jihadi threat.

He is suspected in the attack that left 12 people dead and 48 injured Monday evening in Berlin. Health officials said 12 of the injured had very serious wounds.

After German media published photos of him and a partial name, federal prosecutors issued a public appeal for information along with the promise of a 100,000-euro ($105,000) reward for his arrest.

Within hours it emerged that the man authorities warned could be “violent and armed” had in fact been known to them for months as someone with ties to Islamic extremists who used at least six different names and three different nationalities.

WATCH: Berlin attack: German investigators seek Tunisian man in Christmas market attack

“People are rightly outraged and anxious that such a person can walk around here, keep changing his identity and the legal system can’t cope with them,” said Rainer Wendt, the head of a union representing German police.

Authorities had initially focused their investigation on a Pakistani man detained shortly after the attack, but released him a day later for lack of evidence. After finding documents belonging to Amri in the cab of the truck, they issued a notice to other European countries early Wednesday seeking his arrest.

According to Ralf Jaeger, the interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia state, Amri arrived in Germany in July 2015 as the influx of asylum-seekers was nearing its peak.

Although registered in the west of the country, near the Dutch border, Amri had moved around Germany regularly since February, living mostly in Berlin, said Jaeger.

WATCH: Toronto Christmas Market steps up security after Berlin attack

Within months of his arrival, authorities had added Amri to a growing list of potentially violent Islamic extremists, not all of them asylum-seekers.

“Security agencies exchanged information about this person in the joint counter-terrorism center, the last time in November,” said Jaeger.

State prosecutors in Berlin even launched an investigation of Amri on March 14 following a tip from federal security agencies, who warned that he might be planning a break-in to finance the purchase of automatic weapons for use in a possible future attack.

Surveillance showed that Amri did deal drugs in a notorious Berlin park and was involved in a bar brawl, but no evidence was found to substantiate the original warning.

READ MORE: Barriers installed at Montreal’s Christmas market after Berlin attack

The surveillance measures were called off in September, by which time Amri had disappeared from his regular haunts in Berlin, prosecutors said.

Separately, Amri’s asylum application was rejected in July. German authorities prepared to deport him but weren’t able to do so because he didn’t have valid identity papers, Jaeger said. In August they started trying to get him a replacement passport.

“Tunisia at first denied that this person was its citizen, and the papers weren’t issued for a long time,” Jaeger said. “They arrived today.”

It wasn’t clear whether Germany was aware of Amri’s previous brushes with the law, both in his homeland and in Italy, where he lived until last year. Tunisia’s Mosaique FM radio reported that he was sentenced to several years in prison in both countries for violent crimes.

READ MORE: Berlin Christmas market attack: First victim was truck driver who was dedicated to his job

The Italian news agency ANSA reported that Amri was ordered expelled after his prison time in Italy. However, Tunisian authorities didn’t finish all the paperwork in the required time, so Amri never was sent back to Tunisia, it reported.

The Islamic State group, which claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack, did not identify Amri as the man witnesses saw fleeing from the truck, but described him as “a soldier of the Islamic State” who “carried out the attack in response to calls for targeting citizens of the Crusader coalition.”

Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere cautioned that he was “a suspect, not necessarily the perpetrator.”

“We are still investigating in all directions,” he said.

READ MORE: Islamic State claims responsibility for Berlin truck attack, German officials still investigating

A spokesman for Tunisia’s anti-terrorism judicial police said they questioned Amri’s family members at their home Wednesday in the central Tunisian town of Oueslatia.

Spokesman Sofiane Selliti did not say how many people were questioned. His family lives in poverty and his parents are divorced, according to Tunisia’s Mosaique FM radio, which reported that the father said he had no contact with his son, although his other sons did.

Some German lawmakers have called for consequences regardless of whether Amri turns out to have been behind the wheel of the truck in Berlin.

“In my view we experienced a major shift on Monday,” said Stephan Mayer, a member of Merkel’s center-right bloc. “Terrorism has reached a new level in Germany. It’s shaken the nation and citizens are worried. I think citizens wouldn’t accept it if we simply returned to the political order of the day.”

READ MORE: Berlin attack: Germans share messages of strength after Christmas market attack

Mayer proposed extending the period that people can be held in detention prior to deportation, to give authorities more time to gather the necessary paperwork. He said authorities should also be able to deport people deemed a threat to public order.

Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office currently considers 549 Islamic extremists capable of committing “politically motivated crimes of considerable significance.”

Wendt, the police union official, said keeping tabs on all of these people was a major challenge.

“From a manpower perspective it would … be unimaginable to keep all potential threats under police surveillance round the clock,” he said.

@ 2017 childcare-Care WordPress Theme.