Hillary and Obama to pull in about $20 million in 3rd Quarter

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 Obama_vs._Hillary

Hat Tip: By John King, CNN Political Ticker Blog

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Fundraising dropped off dramatically for the two leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, but Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama will still report raising in the neighborhood of $20 million each over this three month time period, sources close to both candidates tell CNN.

Clinton will show she has pulled in between $17-$20 million, while Obama will report he raised between $18-$19 million. Fundraising is historically slow in the third quarter, which covers the final two months of summer and the first month of fall. In the second quarter, Obama shattered fundraising records by reporting that he raised $32.5 million, $31 million of which he could use in his bid for the Democratic nomination. Clinton raised $27 million during this same time period, and all but $6 million of it could be used in the primary.

There are still three days remaining for candidates to raise money for this fundraising period.

On the Republican side, Arizona Sen. John McCain is expected to show he raised more than $5 million this quarter, but a McCain advisor noted that his recent poll numbers in New Hampshire and a busy fundraising schedule next month shows that they “have some life.” Sources close to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani suggest that he will lead the GOP pack in fundraising this quarter, but would not reveal their fundraising totals.

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Mychal Bell is freed on bail

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 'Jena 6' suspect free on bail

Hat Tip: Doug Simpson, Associated Press

A black teenager whose prosecution in the beating of a white classmate prompted a massive civil rights protest here walked out of a courthouse Thursday after a judge ordered him freed.

Mychal Bell’s release came hours after a prosecutor confirmed he will no longer seek an adult trial for the 17-year-old. Bell, one of the teenagers known as the Jena Six, still faces trial as a juvenile in the December beating.

District Attorney Reed Walters’ decision to abandon adult charges means that Bell, who had faced a maximum of 15 years in prison on his aggravated second-degree battery conviction last month, instead could be held only until he turns 21 if he is found guilty in juvenile court.

The conviction in adult court was thrown out this month by the state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal, which said Bell should not have been tried as an adult on that particular charge.

Walters credited the prayers of people in this small central Louisiana town with averting a “disaster” when tens of thousands of demonstrators descended on the town. Some critics of Walters considered that a slap against the peaceful marchers.

Juanita Bynum on Good Morning America

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 Juanita Bynum

Hat Tip: Good Morning America

Evangelical preacher Juanita Bynum and her husband, Bishop Thomas Weeks III, are superstars on the Christian circuit. But recently the Atlanta-based couple’s profile reached the stratosphere after Bynum accused her husband of domestic violence during the summer.

The episode surprised many of Bynum’s followers because the televangelist’s fan base is largely female and her sermons often center on female empowerment. The situation also served as an opportunity for them to challenge every word Bynum had ever preached.

So, when Bynum accused her husband of attacking her physically in a parking lot outside an Atlanta hotel, the incident seemed unimaginable for what many saw as picture-perfect couple.

The pair, who met in 2002 and were married a year later, separated earlier this year. On Aug. 21, the day the attack occurred, the couple met in an attempt at reconciliation.

Bynum showed police her bruises and claimed Weeks choked, kicked and stomped on her. She said he continued to do so until a bellman pulled him away.

A History of Violence

Bynum revealed on “Good Morning America” Wednesday that this was not her first encounter with domestic abuse.Her first marriage, which inspired her million-copy selling sermon “No More Sheets,” ended as a result of domestic abuse. At the time, Bynum quietly divorced her husband and chose to move on with her life.

“He repented for what he did. I made a vow that I would not talk about that situation,” she said.

Now, as her current husband faces charges of aggravated assault and making terroristic threats, according to The Associated Press, Bynum said she has decided to speak out. (Her husband is no longer is allowed to contact her.)

“You don’t call it abuse until it’s a parking lot situation,” she said. Often times people classify such behavior as marital issues, but it’s abuse when you’re getting yelled at, Bynum added.

Some critics have accused Bynum of using the situation to gain recognition and a larger following. Bynum shot down such allegations.

“The popularity that God had favored me with was already there,” she said.

Still, others questioned how a preacher who encouraged women to stay with their husbands regardless of their troubles can now change her tune. But Bynum said she still believes a wife should support her husband.

“It is the responsibility of every wife to make their husband feel loved and respected,” she said.

But, Bynum said, while people should live by the rules of their spirituality, they also should recognize danger signs.

“I think spiritually needs to be used in a proper manner,” Bynum said. “You need to pray, but you also need to take yourself out of harms way while you pray.”

The New Face of Domestic Violence

Since the incident with her husband, Bynum has christened herself the new face of domestic violence, and some of her followers believe it may have a lasting effect on Christians and their faith.

“It’s kind of like a black eye, you know, on Christianity,” said WTJH gospel DJ Reggie Gay. “We’re supposed to be able to get along with each other and live right and do all those kind of things. But it’s kind of tough. So I would encourage that congregation of people to be prayerful.”

Weeks has denied abusing his wife.

“I want to be clear in saying I do not condone in any way, shape or form violence of any kind towards woman,” he said. “My role has always been to operate as protector and not as an aggressor. I’ve walked away from many situations between the two of us just like I walked away that night.”

Finally, CBC steps up on the Jena 6

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Hat Tip: N.O. Times Picayune, Associated Press — The Congressional Black Caucus is asking the Justice Department to investigate possible civil rights violations in the “Jena 6” case that sparked a massive protest in Louisiana last week.

“This shocking case has focused national and international attention on what appears to be an unbelievable example of the separate and unequal justice that was once commonplace in the Deep South,” the group of 43 lawmakers said in a letter to Acting Attorney General Peter Keisler.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the department has been closely monitoring the case of six black high school teens arrested for beating a white classmate in Jena, La. He said the department also is investigating allegations of threats against the students and their families.

“Since these investigations are ongoing, the department cannot comment any further,” Roehrkasse said.

The caucus also sent a separate letter asking Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco to pardon 17-year-old Mychal Bell, the black teen convicted in adult court of aggravated second-degree battery after the charge was reduced from attempted murder.

Bell, who remains behind bars, was one of six Jena High School students arrested after a December attack on a white student, Justin Barker, and the only one to be tried.

Bell was tried as an adult and convicted of aggravated second-degree battery after the charge was reduced from attempted murder. A state appeals court recently threw out his conviction, saying he could not be tried as an adult.

District Attorney Reed Walters said Thursday that he would not appeal that decision and would let a juvenile court deal with the case.

The black lawmakers call the decision to charge Bell and his classmates as adults “an abuse of prosecutorial discretion” and claim no action was taken in a recent similar case involving a white defendant and a black victim.

“The failure to grant bail to Mychal Bell is harsh, to the point of being unconscionable, given all the facts that have come to our attention,” the lawmakers wrote to Blanco.

More than 20,000 people converged on the small town last week to protest the case, accusing local officials of prosecuting blacks more harshly than whites.
 

Mychal Bell’s bail set at $45,000

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Hat Tip: (CNN) — Bail was being posted Thursday for Mychal Bell, a black teenager accused of beating a white classmate, after a district attorney’s announcement that he would not appeal a higher court’s decision moving Bell’s case to juvenile court, according to the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Mychal Bell, 17, is accused with five others of beating Justin Barker in a school fight.

Bell’s bail was set at $45,000, Sharpton said. The paperwork was being worked out, he said, and the bail bondsman was at the courthouse.

Earlier Thursday, Bell was moved from jail to a juvenile facility, according to his attorney, Lewis Scott.

LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters said his decision not to appeal was based on what he believed is best for the victim in the case.

“While I believe that a review would have merit … I believe it is in the best interest of the victim and his family not to delay this matter any further and move it to its conclusion,” Walters told reporters. Video Watch the district attorney say he won’t challenge the ruling. »

He said a march by 15,000 people last week in the small town of 3,000 residents led by civil rights leaders Sharpton and Martin Luther King III did not influence his decision.

Demonstrators were protesting how authorities handled the cases of Bell and five other teens accused of beating fellow student Justin Barker.

Many said they are angry that the students, dubbed the “Jena 6,” are being treated more harshly than three white students who hung nooses from an oak tree on high school property.

The white students were suspended from school but did not face criminal charges. The protesters say they should have been charged with a hate crime.

Bell, now 17, was the only one of the Jena 6 behind bars. His bond previously was set at $90,000.

A district judge earlier this month tossed out Bell’s conviction for conspiracy to commit second-degree battery, saying the matter should have been handled in juvenile court. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal in Lake Charles, Louisiana, did the same with Bell’s battery conviction in mid-September.

Prosecutors originally charged all six black students accused of being involved in beating Barker with second-degree attempted murder and conspiracy. Walters reduced charges against at least four of them — Bell, Robert Bailey Jr., Carwin Jones and Theo Shaw — to battery and conspiracy.

Bryant Purvis awaits arraignment. Charges against Jesse Ray Beard, who was 14 at the time of the alleged crime, are unavailable because he’s a juvenile.

Wednesday, Gov. Kathleen Blanco announced that Louisiana State Police officers will protect the families of the Jena 6 and investigate any threats they have received. A white supremacist Web site posted the names and addresses of the six black teens after last week’s march, calling on followers to “let them know justice is coming.”

Thursday, the FBI said it has been made aware of allegations of threats.

“Threats are taken seriously, and as these investigations are ongoing we cannot comment further,” said Sheila Thorne of the FBI’s New Orleans, Louisiana, office.

The December 4 attack on Barker came after months of racial tension, including at least two instances of fighting in the town, sparked originally when three white teens hung nooses from an oak tree on the town’s high school grounds.

Walters has said there was no direct link between the hanging of the nooses and the schoolyard attack, and defended the prosecutions ahead of last Thursday’s peaceful march. Blanco defended the prosecutor Wednesday, saying, “He has a solid record and is highly respected among his peers.”

Walters also addressed the stress and notoriety the town has been subjected to, saying the only way he and other residents “have been able to endure the trauma that has been thrust upon us is through the prayers of the Christian people who have sent them up in this community.”

He also suggested that some kind of “disaster” was averted when thousands of marchers came to Jena last week.

“I firmly believe and am confident of the fact that had it not been for the direct intervention of the Lord Jesus Christ last Thursday, a disaster would have happened,” Walters said.

“The Lord Jesus Christ put his influence on those people and they responded accordingly,” he said, without explaining exactly what he meant.

Soon after the district attorney spoke, a local reverend took issue with his comments.

Obviously, we are serving two different gods here,” the Rev. Donald Sidley said. “My Bible says that we should do — we should be loving, love your neighbor as yourself.

“For him to try and separate the community like he is and then using Christ Jesus to influence the people that Jesus is working on their side, well, that’s — that’s absurd. … God is god of the human race,” said Sidley, of the New Evergreen Church.

Jena 6 DA yields to pressure from Governor

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 Hat Tip: Doug Simpson, Associated Press

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Wednesday that the prosecutor in one of the so-called “Jena 6” cases has decided not to challenge an appellate ruling that sends the case to juvenile court.

LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters had earlier said he would appeal the state appeals court’s decision that 17-year-old Mychal Bell’s second-degree battery conviction be set aside. The court ruled that Bell could not be tried as an adult.

Blanco said she had spoken with Walters and asked him to reconsider pushing to keep the case in the adult courts system. She said Walters contacted her Wednesday to say he had decided not to appeal the ruling.

“I want to thank him for this decision he has made,” Blanco said.

Bell, who remains behind bars, was one of six Jena High School teens arrested after a December attack on a white student, Justin Barker. Five of the six teens initially were charged with attempted second-degree murder, though charges for four of them, including Bell, were later reduced. One teen hasn’t been arraigned, and the case of the sixth, handled as a juvenile, is sealed.

Blanco made her announcement at a news conference with activists Martin Luther King III and the Rev. Al Sharpton. Sharpton said he hopes a bond will be set low enough to allow for Bell’s release, and he thanked Blanco for getting involved in the matter.

“I want to congratulate her for showing leadership,” Sharpton said. “And I want to congratulate the district attorney for good judgment.”

Blanco said Walters gave her permission to announce his decision, and that he planned to discuss his decision publicly on Thursday. A phone call placed at Walters’ home went unanswered Wednesday.

The case brought more than 20,000 protesters to the central Louisiana town of Jena last week in a marched that harkened back to the demonstrations of the 1950s and ’60s.

Critics accuse local officials of prosecuting blacks more harshly than whites. They note that no charges were filed against three white teens suspended from the high school for allegedly hanging nooses in a tree on campus — an incident that was followed by fights between blacks and whites, including the attack on Barker.

Walters has condemned the noose incident — calling it “abhorrent and stupid” in a New York Times op-ed piece Thursday — but said the act broke no Louisiana law.

In the article, Walters defended the aggravated second-degree battery counts most of those charged in the attack on Barker now face. He said Barker was “blindsided,” knocked unconscious and kicked by at least six people, and would have faced “severe injury or death” had another student not intervened.