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Minnesota officer charged with murdering black motorist to testify

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The Minnesota police officer on trial for the murder of a black motorist during a traffic stop last year, the aftermath of which was streamed on social media by the driver’s girlfriend, is expected to say on Friday that he feared for his life.

St. Anthony Police Department officer Jeronimo Yanez, who was charged with second-degree manslaughter, sparked national outrage and triggered weeks of protests in St. Paul and Minneapolis after he fatally shot Philando Castile, 32, in July 2016.

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Yanez, who has pleaded not guilty, will testify at the Ramsey County District Court in St. Paul that he fired his gun because Castile was reaching for a weapon he disclosed he had, Yanez’s attorney, Paul Engh, said during opening arguments on Monday.

Engh said Yanez feared for his life. Engh said the police dashboard camera video of the stop showed Castile ignored two commands to avoid reaching for or pulling out his gun.

The shooting in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights during a traffic stop, like similar incidents across the United States, fueled public debate about appropriate use of force by law enforcement against minorities.

The police video of the traffic stop, as well as the Facebook Live post by girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, who was in the passenger seat next to Castile during the stop, were played in court on Monday. Yanez fired seven shots, hitting Castile five times, including twice in the heart, prosecutors said.

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Reynolds said on Tuesday that she showed the video because she did not trust police. She testified she was afraid for her 4-year-old daughter, who was in the vehicle’s back seat when the shooting occurred.

“I know people are not protected against the police,” she said. “I feared for my daughter’s safety and my safety because a gun was pointed in our car.”

Yanez has said he was justified in stopping Castile’s car because he resembled a suspect in a convenience store robbery, according to court documents. Castile’s vehicle also had a broken brake light.

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After Castile was stopped, Yanez asked him to present his driver’s license and insurance card. Castile disclosed he was carrying a licensed handgun. The exchange took just over a minute and Castile’s permit to carry a gun was later found in his wallet.

(Writing by Ben Klayman; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Trump aides desperately try to downplay ‘order’ to US companies to leave China

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Donald Trump's top aides on Sunday downplayed the idea of US companies being forced to abandon China any time soon, as an edict from the president ordering businesses to start looking for alternatives has been met with skepticism.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House economics advisor Larry Kudlow took to the airwaves from France, where Trump is participating in the G7 summit, to smooth out tensions in the business community prompted by Trump's Friday tweet.

Trump said he has "no plan now" to bring US companies in line, and his aides quickly reinforced the message.

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Trump sparks confusion at G7 before doubling down on China tariffs

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President Donald Trump doubled down Sunday on his hard line against China after sowing confusion with statements that he might be willing to soften a trade war G7 partners fear threatens the world economy.

At the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, Trump announced a major trade deal with Japan and promised more of the same with Britain, once Brexit is done.

But the positives were overshadowed by a mix-up over his apparent expression of regret for the latest escalation in the US-China dispute.

"I have second thoughts about everything," he conceded to reporters when asked if he regretted his decision on Friday to ramp up tariffs on all Chinese imports, worth some $550 billion, in retaliation for Beijing's earlier hike of levies on US goods.

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Persecuted Christians eye long-sought freedom in Sudan

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Sudan's Christians suffered decades of persecution under the regime of Islamist general Omar al-Bashir. Now they hope his downfall will give the religious freedom they have long prayed for.

Deep within the maze of dusty alleys that honeycomb Omdurman, Khartoum's sprawling twin city, Yousef Zamgila's church is not visible from the street.

It is hidden in the courtyard of a friend's home and consists of a few iron benches, a pulpit and crosses hastily painted on pillars holding a corrugated roof.

"The previous centre got destroyed because we didn't have the right papers. They always refused... So we use the land of our neighbours," says the Lutheran reverend.

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