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Minnesota officer charged with second-degree murder in Australian’s death

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The Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot an unarmed Australian woman last July was arrested on Tuesday on charges of second-degree murder and third-degree manslaughter, according to county records.

Mohamed Noor was arrested by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and his bail was set at $500,000, according to county jail records.

Minneapolis’ top prosecutor Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman is expected to announce the charges at a news conference at 2:30 p.m. local time in the July 2017 death of Justine Damond, 40, who was shot by Noor from his patrol car.

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Freeman had delayed his decision in December, saying his office needed more time and he did not have enough evidence to charge Noor. The county attorney’s office declined to comment beyond the statement on Tuesday.

Noor has been on paid leave and had declined to be interviewed by Minnesota state investigators. Neither Noor’s attorney, Tom Plunkett, nor the head of the Minneapolis Police Union, Bob Kroll, could immediately be reached for comment.

Plunkett has said that Noor extended his “thoughts and wishes” to Damond’s family and raised concerns about Freeman’s objectivity.

The attorney for Damond’s family, Bob Bennett, could not be reached on Tuesday. He has said that the family supported the delay in the charging decision as they wanted a thorough investigation.

Damond, who was living in Minneapolis and engaged to be married, had called police about a possible sexual assault near her house and approached the police after their arrival, authorities have said.

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The shooting drew condemnation in Minnesota and Australia, where Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called it “shocking” and “inexplicable.” Then-Minneapolis police chief Jamee Harteau resigned after city officials said procedures had been violated and that Damond “didn’t have to die.”

 Neither Noor, who came to the United States from Somalia as a child, nor Matthew Harrity, another officer in the patrol car, had their body cameras activated, police have said.
Harrity has told investigators that he was startled by a loud sound near the patrol car shortly before Noor fired through the open driver’s-side window, striking Damond. Court documents said a woman slapped the back of the car before the shooting.

Reporting by Todd melby, Writing by Ben Klayman

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GOP leader McCarthy swats aside Fiona Hill’s national security testimony debunking his Ukraine conspiracy theory

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On Thursday, during one of the final scheduled impeachment hearings this week, National Security Council official Fiona Hill demolished President Donald Trump's conspiracy theory that Ukraine, rather than Russia, meddled in the 2016 election, calling it a "fictional narrative" and noting that it originated with the Kremlin itself.

But in conversation with reporters, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) flatly disbelieved Hill's testimony, and insisted he still held onto the theory.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told me that he was not going to lose any GOP votes during impeachment.

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Environmental justice advocates blast Trump EPA for ‘dangerous’ rollback of chemical disaster rule

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"Safety requirements at these facilities should be stepped up, not rolled back. But this is what we've come to expect from the Trump EPA."

Environmental justice groups condemned the Trump administration Thursday for catering to the chemical industry after the Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rollback of Obama-era disaster prevention measures that were implemented to protect workers at and residents of communities with chemical plants.

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Trump’s personal interests have directly undermined national security and election integrity: CNN correspondent

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On Thursday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," correspondent Jim Sciutto broke down a key takeaway from the impeachment hearings.

"We are one year away — less than a year away from the next election, three years after Russia, with consequence, interfered, meddled in the 2016 election," said Sciutto. "One thing is clear from everybody who testified, the president of the United States never expressed any interest in defending the U.S. against that kind of interference. What he did, he was interested in a whole lot of other stuff that undermines that goal of defending U.S. elections from Russian interference, one of which Fiona Hill highlighted there, presenting an alternate explanation, a false one it was Ukraine that somehow hacked the DNC server, not Russia."

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