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2018 midterm vote is the most expensive in U.S. history. Here’s where the cash is coming from – National




As if the significance of the upcoming midterm elections wasn’t already apparent, funding for the 2018 elections is closing in on USD$5.2 billion, making this the most expensive congressional vote in U.S. history.

That’s up 35 per cent from the 2014 cycle, according to data from the Centre of Responsive Politics. 

“The significance of this election is clear. But whether it’s a blue wave or a red wave, one thing is certain: a wave of money is surging toward election day, much of it coming from the wealthiest donors targeting this year’s most competitive races,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, in a statement.

Both Republican and Democratic candidates are raising money at record rates, however, the huge uptick in funding levels is primarily being driven by the Democrats — Democratic House hopefuls raising USD$951 million to the Republicans’ USD$637 million.

“A lot of people are giving money to the Democrats. Their candidates have been raising a lot. The difference between the amounts the Democrats have been raising and the Republicans have been raising is probably bigger than it’s ever been,” said Canadian economist and UBC professor James Brander.

While a large portion of this funding has been driven by women, Brander notes that trade uncertainty may be driving big business to send its dollars elsewhere.

“The fact that Donald Trump has imposed tariffs and has created a lot of unhealthy rhetoric about international trade. That is something that the business community does not like,” he adds.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the usual mega-donors have shown up for their parties in this election — with Sheldon and Miriam Adelson shelling out USD$113 million in support of Republican candidates, while billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg combined have sent nearly USD$90 million the Democrats’ way.

U.S. midterm elections: What they are, how they work and why they matter

However, Silicon Valley has come out to play in these midterms like never before, notes tech publication Recode, with low-key Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovits donating a total of USD$35 million to Democratic candidates over the past few months and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman donating a combined USD$2 million to Democratic candidates and institutions.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos contributed more than USD$10 million to non-partisan organizations which largely split their money evenly between Republicans and Democrats. Netflix’s Reed Hastings, however, donated over USD$500,000 to the Democratic Party, according to GoBankingRates. 

U.S. courts rule against Georgia, allow 3,000 naturalized U.S. citizens to vote in midterms

“Normally Republicans out-raise Democrats. This election, the Democrats have been raising a lot of money and a lot of it has to do with Trump’s anti-trade position,” says Brander. “The trade policy plays an important role in that. The business community is at best, very ambivalent about the Trump administration. There is a lot of support within that community for Democrats this election cycle.”

According to Brander, this has come as a surprise, as the Republican Party has traditionally received more support from the business community. With the influence of major, multinational, tech companies which rely on the global marketplace, this could change.

“The business community on average has been disappointed with Trump. Yes, I think it is surprising that Trump has gone as vigorously as he has on international trade issues. I think that was a negative surprise for the business community. As a result, I think we are seeing a surprising amount of support for Democrats from the business community,” he said.

From a funding perspective, Democrats are either beating or keeping pace with Republicans in every race. While these figures indicate the energy behind the Democratic movement this time around, it remains to be seen whether dollars can be transferred into votes, the Center of Responsive Politics notes.

“Whether that money will translate into success on November 6, is an open question, given that money — while essential — is by no means the only factor governing electoral outcomes,” Bryner said in a statement.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali



Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu

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Harris accepts VP nomination



Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself



Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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