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In Baton Rouge, more allegations of police misconduct after Hurricane Katrina

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Yesterday, the Baton Rouge Advocate published a damning exposé detailing allegations of misconduct by Baton Rouge police officers in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

After a four-year legal battle, the paper finally got a cache of police department documents describing a pattern of racist and abusive behavior by Baton Rouge officers in the days after the storm ravaged the Gulf coast. The cops are accused of using demeaning language; routinely harassing African Americans; physically abusing citizens; and seeking to “make life rough for New Orleans evacuees so they would leave town,” according to the Advocate, which has posted the documents online.

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Here’s the twist: The accusations were made by other cops, 55 state troopers from New Mexico and Michigan who had been sent to Baton Rouge to assist with post-storm policing. The out-of-state cops were yanked out of Baton Rouge after only two days because of their concerns about misconduct.

The visiting officers said Baton Rouge cops referred to African Americans as “heathens” and “animals” that “needed to be beaten down.”

In response to the newspaper’s questions, Baton Rouge Police Chief Jeff LeDuff said some of the allegations against his officers were “maybe blown out of proportion.” He also said his department had investigated the incidents and dealt with any policy violations uncovered.

Five years after the hurricane, controversy about police tactics in the aftermath of the disaster continues to swirl. In recent weeks, two former New Orleans cops have pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection to high-profile shootings on the Danziger Bridge. Federal agents are investigating four other police shooting incidents from the time period.

ProPublica is covering these violent encounters in an ongoing series with the New Orleans Times-Picayune and PBS “Frontline.”

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— A.C. Johnson, ProPublica


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‘The president isn’t above the law’: Supreme Court expected to rule on two key Trump cases on Thursday

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Can Donald Trump refuse to hand over his financial records to Congress and New York prosecutors simply because he is president of the United States? The Supreme Court will rule Thursday on two related cases to answer this, with potentially widespread political implications.

The decision by the nine justices could lift the veil on Trump's finances ahead of the November 3 election.

Unlike all of his predecessors since Richard Nixon in the 1970s, New York real estate mogul Trump refused to release his tax returns, despite promising to do so during his 2016 White House campaign.

Trump made his fortune a key component of that campaign, and his lack of transparency raises questions about his true worth and possible conflicts of interest.

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Australia offers safe haven to Hong Kongers, sparking China fury

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Australia offered pathways to permanent residency for thousands of people from Hong Kong on Thursday in response to China's crackdown on dissent, drawing a furious reply from Beijing.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government was suspending its extradition agreement with the city and, in addition to extending the visas of 10,000 Hong Kongers already in the country, threw open the door to thousands more wanting to start a new life Down Under.

Morrison said the decisions were taken in response to China's imposition last week of a tough new security law in Hong Kong, which he said "constitutes a fundamental change of circumstances" for the semi-autonomous territory.

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‘Glee’ star Naya Rivera missing, feared drowned

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"Glee" star Naya Rivera is missing and feared drowned at a California lake, local officials said, with rescuers to continue a search for her on Thursday.

The Ventura County Sheriff's office earlier tweeted it was looking for a "possible drowning victim" at the lake, and said a dive team was being deployed to the area.

Rivera, 33, is best known for her role as high school cheerleader Santana Lopez in "Glee", the TV series that she starred in for six seasons.

She rented a boat on Wednesday to take her four-year-old son onto Lake Piru, northwest of Los Angeles, local media cited the County Sheriff as saying.

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