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Three Big Things
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12 weeks to Election Day as four more states hold primaries for Congress

12 weeks to Election Day as four more states hold primaries for Congress

With less than three months until the mid-term elections for the U.S. House and Senate, four more states hold primaries today for the Congress, but the roster of races is unlikely to produce the news associated with last week’s tight race in a special U.S. House election in Ohio, which amplified questions about whether the GOP can maintain control of Capitol Hill after November. Primaries take place on Tuesday in four states: Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin. No sitting incumbents in the Congress are on upset alert at this point – though there could always be some out-of-the-blue defeat that no one saw coming; but really, this is more about setting the roster for the final races in November. At this point in time, the Congressional change for November is 57 seats in the House, and 3 in the Senate. (Please note that various news organizations calculate these numbers differently.) As you can see from the data, the total change is already equal to that for the House in the 2016 election cycle, as a large amount of turnover continues in the Congress. Most people don’t realize that currently in the U.S. House, almost 200 of the 435 seats are held by lawmakers who were elected since 2012 – that number will grow substantially after the 2018 elections. In the Senate, fully half of Senators have less than eight years in office, just over one term. The primaries for 2018 are rapidly coming to an end – next Tuesday brings Alaska and Wyoming; Arizona and Florida vote on August 28. Then, after Labor Day, Massachusetts, Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island finish out the primaries for the 2018 mid-term elections for Congress. November is not that far away.

Toddler died during religious 'ritual' at New Mexico compound, prosecutors say

Toddler died during religious 'ritual' at New Mexico compound, prosecutors say

When a 3-year-old boy from Clayton County, Georgia, died in a ritual in the northern New Mexico desert, the other children there were allegedly told he would come back to life as Jesus and tell them who to kill. >> Remains of child found at New Mexico compound identified as missing Georgia boy, grandfather says That’s among the jarring allegations leveled Monday by prosecutors, who are accusing the child’s father and four other adults of setting up a squalid isolated compound and plotting violence. Police raided the property in Taos County on Aug. 3 and say they have evidence the occupants were Muslim extremists training their children to become killers with high-powered weapons. >> Atlanta dad planned ‘exorcism’ on son before desert camp found, police say Authorities initially went to the compound looking for Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, who is accused of taking his son, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, from the child’s mother in late November after claiming he was taking the boy to a Jonesboro-area park. A month earlier, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj made a trip to Saudi Arabia and came home wanting to stop his son’s medicine and perform rituals to rid him of “demonic spirits,” the father’s family told authorities. The child suffered from brain damage caused during birth, as well as seizures. >> On AJC.com: Death in the desert: What led to Atlanta dad’s mysterious journey? The father and son had apparently arrived at the compound in January, along with four adult relatives and 11 of their children. The adults are each charged with 11 counts of child cruelty (none relating to Abdul-Ghani) and were in court for a bond hearing, which was streamed online by Albuquerque news station KOB. Judge Sarah Backus said the testimony was troubling, but she wasn’t convinced the suspects were a danger to the community. She granted each $20,000 bond to be released from jail, with the conditions that they wear an ankle monitor until they get stable housing in the county and have only supervised visits with their children. One of the children told an FBI agent the boy would foam at the mouth during the rituals, which consisted of the father reading from the Quran and placing a hand on the boy’s head. The agent said the rituals began before the dad left Georgia and continued in New Mexico at the urging of another of the compound’s occupants, Jany Leveille. Leveille is the “Islamic wife” of Wahhaj and believed that she was originally supposed to be the toddler’s mother, according to FBI agent Travis Taylor. Taylor testified that Leveille believed Wahhaj’s legal wife in Georgia used “black magic” to steal the child from Leveille’s womb. During the final ritual on Abdul-Ghani, his heart stopped, the agent said. Leveille allegedly said she believed the child had already been dead and was only still animated because he was possessed by demons. After his death, the boy reportedly was washed, prayed over, wrapped in a sheet and placed in a tunnel near the camp. At least one child told authorities that the adults led them to believe Abdul-Ghani would come back as Jesus and instruct them on what “corrupt institutions they needed to get rid of,” authorities said. The institutions were expected to include teachers, law enforcement and the military. When police searched the site, they allegedly found a shooting range and a number of firearms, as well as a document with instructions about how to build an untraceable AR-15. Some guns were in the tunnel. Prosecutors said Siraj Ibn Wahhaj had also taken extensive firearms training in Georgia. While the group was at the compound, relatives and friends were trying to locate them, including Wahhaj’s father, the well-known New York City imam also named Siraj Wahhaj. The father has said something must have gone wrong mentally for the group to cut ties suddenly and travel west. In addition to his namesake, the group includes two of the imam’s daughters and his son-in-law. >> Read more trending news  Siraj Ibn Wahhaj’s brother, Muhammad, received a letter from someone at the compound (authorities aren’t sure who wrote it) instructing him to bring all his money and weapons to the site, prosecutor Timothy Hasson said. The letter said not to tell his father. “Allah says he will protect you always,” the letter reportedly said in part, “so follow until he makes you a martyr.” That martyrdom, Hasson said, was supposed to come after Muhammad joined the group in New Mexico. Further details about the trip to Saudi Arabia weren’t revealed. Hasson conceded that countless Muslims make the hajj pilgrimage to the country, which could be a logical explanation for the trip. “The evidence as a whole says this family was on a mission, a dangerous one and a violent one,” the prosecutor said.

Woman accused of killing boyfriend's toddler daughter

Woman accused of killing boyfriend's toddler daughter

A Pennsylvania woman who police say is responsible for the death of a 23-month-old girl in Clairton turned herself in on Monday. >> Watch the news report here Deasha Ringgold is charged with homicide and endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the death of Aubree Sherrell, Allegheny County police said Monday. >> More on WPXI.com: Woman accused of killing toddler taken into custody An unresponsive Sherrell was taken to a hospital on April 27 and later pronounced dead, police said. An investigation determined Aug. 10 that Sherrell’s death was a homicide, and a warrant was issued for Ringgold on Monday. Police said the girl died from strangulation and had bruises around her neck. Ringgold was dating Sherrell's father and was babysitting her the day she died, police said. Ringgold allegedly told police that she put the girl to bed in her apartment on Glenn Drive in Clairton and went to sleep herself. According to investigators, she told them she found Sherrell lying on her back and her lips were blue.  >> Read more trending news  Police said Ringgold told them she took Sherrell to the hospital right away, but cellphone records show that an hour before she did, she allegedly Googled the following: 'How to do CPR on a baby?'  'How to wake up a knocked out person' 'My friend got choked out, what do I do?'  The girl died in April, but Ringgold was charged after the autopsy and police investigation. According to the complaint, the baby's father was at work during the incident and has not been charged. 

Indicted GOP Congressman suspends campaign for re-election

Three days after being charged by federal prosecutors with insider trading and lying to the FBI, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) announced on Saturday that he would end his campaign for another term in the Congress, but because of complicated election laws in the state of New York, it’s possible that his name could remain on the ballot in November.

“After extensive discussions with my family and my friends over the last few days, I have decided that it is in the best interest of my constituents of NY-27, the Republican Party and President Trump’s agenda for me to suspend my campaign [More]