Sam's Top 5 Things to Know for Thursday

1. Minnesota Guard serving in Guantanamo battens down for Hurricane Irma

PIONEER PRESS: More than 120 soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard’s 257th Military Police Company are in Cuba and readying for Hurricane Irma. The Monticello-based company was deployed to U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in support of Joint Task Force Guantanamo in March. Members are expected to be deployed for nine months. A Naval Station Guantanamo Bay Facebook post at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday warned that destructive winds were expected within 48 hours. “All departments and tenant commands have set Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness 3 in preparation for the hurricane,” the post stated.

Soldiers were told to move all items away from windows, secure all loose items around buildings, back up computer files, cover computer workstations with plastic bags or wrap, and unplug all unnecessary equipment.

The company is guarding prisoners at the Guantanamo detention facilities; this is the first Minnesota National Guard unit deployed there. The unit was deployed to Iraq in 2004-2005 and to Afghanistan in 2012-2013, where members were responsible for coaching, teaching and mentoring members of the Afghan National Army.

2. Minneapolis officer’s mental records probed in Justine Damond shooting

PIONEER PRESS: Investigators are looking into the mental health and medical records of a Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot an Australian native in July. A search warrant filed publicly Tuesday shows an investigator with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was seeking investigative background records, including pre-employment psychological exams and unredacted personnel files, of Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor. Court documents show the city provided investigators with the requested information.

Noor fatally shot 40-year-old Justine Damond on July 15 after she called police to report a possible sexual assault near her house. Damond , was shot as she approached the squad car that Noor and his partner were in. Damond’s death drew international attention and led to the forced resignation of the city’s police chief.

The search-warrant application, dated Aug. 31, seeks similar information for Noor’s partner, Matthew Harrity. Harrity, who was driving the police vehicle at the time, told investigators that he was startled by a loud sound near the cruiser and, immediately afterward, Damond approached the driver’s side window. Harrity told agents that Noor fired his weapon from the passenger seat, hitting Damond.

Once the investigation is complete, the case will be turned over to prosecutors, who have said they expect to make a decision on whether to charge the officers by the end of the year.

3. House Passes $7.9 Billion Harvey Aid Bill

CHANNEL 5: Texas GOP Rep. John Culberson said, "Help is on the way.” His Houston district was slammed by the storm. "The scale of the tragedy is unimaginable. But in the midst of all this, and all the suffering, it really reflects the American character, how people from all over the country stepped up to help Houstonians recover from this."

The first installment in Harvey aid is to handle the immediate emergency needs and replenish Federal Emergency Management Agency reserves in advance of Hurricane Irma, which is barreling through the Caribbean toward Florida. Far more money will be needed once more complete estimates are in this fall, and Harvey could end up exceeding the $110 billion government cost of Hurricane Katrina.

Politics quickly intruded as Democratic leaders insisted they would back the measure in the Senate only if it were linked to a short-term increase in the nation's borrowing limit, not the longer-term hike that Republicans and the Trump administration want. And some Democrats from the New York delegation reminded Texas Republicans that they opposed a larger aid bill for those harmed by Superstorm Sandy in the Northeast five years ago.

4. Petition to replace Columbus monument with Prince statue gains support

KARE11: An online petition to replace a monument of Christopher Columbus with a statue of Prince is gaining traction in Minnesota. The petition, launched by Wintana Melekin, asks Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota State Legislature to bring down the state's monument to Christopher Columbus. The petition reads, "we, the undersigned, do not believe that Columbus represents the values Minnesotans carry. Rather than glorify a man who wanted to extinguish Black and Native peoples, we should honor members of our community whose leadership we find inspirational.”

As of Wednesday morning, the petition was nearly at its goal of 5,000 signatures.

5. Stephen King adaptation 'It' is expected to set a box-office record & jolt Hollywood's slow year

LATIMES: Movie theaters weathered the lowest-grossing Labor Day weekend in years, capping off a summer in which domestic box-office revenue dropped 16% year-over-year to $3.8 billion, according to box-office tracking firm ComScore.

But September — usually a sleepy month for ticket sales — is looking strong thanks to “It,” the $35-million horror movie about a killer clown who terrorizes kids in a small Maine town. Other September movies, such as Fox’s spy sequel “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” and Warner Bros.’ “The Lego Ninjago Movie,” both due out Sept. 22, are also likely to give movie theaters an early fall boost.

If “It” grosses the expected $55 million in domestic ticket sales Friday through Sunday in the U.S. and Canada, it will break the record for the biggest opening weekend in September (not adjusted for inflation).Some analysts who have read pre-release audience surveys say the film, directed by Andy Muschietti, could even hit the $70-million mark in its first weekend. The current record holder for September is Sony’s animated comedy “Hotel Transylvania 2,” which opened with $48 million in 2015.

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