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Justice Department to investigate Chicago police: source

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The U.S. Justice Department will open an investigation into the Chicago Police Department after protests over how it handled the case of a black teenager shot by a white police officer, a person familiar with the matter said on Sunday.

The “patterns and practices” investigation will determine whether the department systematically violates constitutional rights, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. They would not elaborate on the investigation.

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The civil probe follows murder charges being filed against the police officer in the October 2014 killing. The shooting was caught on videotape, which was not released until the charges were filed last month.

Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times. Shortly after that, the city released a patrol car video of the shooting. Van Dyke fired all of the shots.

Protests erupted afterwards in the nation’s third-largest city, culminating in the firing on Tuesday of Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Critics of the mayor and the local prosecutor have complained that it took too long for the McDonald tape to be released and for charges to be filed.

The release of the video comes at a time of heightened debate in the United States over police use of lethal force, especially against black people. Over the past year, protests against killings of unarmed black men and women – some videotaped with phones or police cameras – have rocked a number of U.S. cities.

A patterns and practices investigation does not criminally charge individuals, but often results in a consent decree between the police department and Justice Department to agree to new practices and accountability measures.

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The investigation was requested by the Illinois attorney general.

(Reporting by Julia Edwards; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Alan Crosby)


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Melania Trump statue torched near her Slovenian hometown: report

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On Wednesday, The Daily Beast reported that a wooden statue of First Lady Melania Trump carved from a tree outside her hometown in Slovenia last year has been burned to the ground.

"The artist who had commissioned the sculpture, Brad Downey, had the statue removed on July 5," reported Madeline Charbonneau. "Downey, who is American but works out of Berlin, had hoped his statue of the first lady would create dialogue about American politics, given that Melania Trump is an immigrant married to a president who seeks to stem immigration. Though the investigation is still pending, Downey said he hopes to interview the perpetrators for an upcoming exhibition."

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FBI investigating Chinese businessman who bankrolled media company linked to Steve Bannon

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A Wall Street Journal expose revealed that a Chinese businessman is under investigation by the FBI after he used funds to bankroll a media company with ties to a former aide to President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon.

"Federal Bureau of Investigation national security agents in recent months have asked people who know both men for information on Mr. Guo’s activities, including the source of funds of a media company linked to him that hired Mr. Bannon in 2018 as a consultant, the people said," according to the Journal. "As recently as last week, the FBI met with one person familiar with the companies tied to Mr. Guo, the people said. The probe has been underway for more than six months, and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn have been involved.

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Mike Pompeo asks Egypt to stop harassing US citizens

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday welcomed Egypt's release of a US citizen but urged the ally to stop harassment of others.

Mohamed Amashah, 24, was freed Monday, nearly 16 months after he was arrested in Cairo's Tahrir Square for holding up a sign seeking the release of prisoners, according to human rights campaigners.

A dual US-Egyptian citizen who lives in New Jersey, he had gone on a hunger strike this year to protest his conditions.

"We thank Egypt for securing his release and his repatriation," Pompeo told a news conference.

"But at the same time, we urge Egyptian officials to stop unwarranted harassment of US citizens and their families who remain there," he said.

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