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At least 4 dead as U.S. Midwest hit with devastating spring floods – National

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At least 4 dead as U.S. Midwest hit with devastating spring floods National

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The latest round of Midwestern flooding claimed at least four lives, closed hundreds of roads and forced residents of river towns to shore up threatened levees with sandbags as waters rose to and near record levels in some communities.

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings Friday along a large swath of the Mississippi River, as well as flash flood watches for parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas after recent rounds of heavy rain.


READ MORE:
U.S. Midwest deluged with rainwater and snowmelt, boosting Missouri River to almost 26 feet

The body of a missing kayaker was found Friday afternoon in a swollen southwest Missouri creek. Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. John Lueckenhoff identified the man as 35-year-old Scott M. Puckett of Forsyth, Missouri. The body of his friend, Alex Ekern, 23, was found Thursday.

Puckett and Ekern were among three men who began paddling Wednesday afternoon in Bull Creek near the small town of Walnut Shade. The patrol said they were swept over a low-water bridge and caught in what is called a hydraulic, which creates a washing-machine effect that is hard to escape. One of the men survived.

WATCH: Video shows extent of devastating flooding in Davenport, Iowa





Flooding also claimed the life of a camper found Wednesday after he was caught in waters from an overflowed creek near the town of Ava, also in southwest Missouri. And in northern Indiana, a 2-year-old was killed when his mother drove onto a flooded road.

In Davenport, Iowa, concerns were that even after the Mississippi River reached a record height, the worst was far from over.

The crest inched above the 1993 record on Thursday, and forecasters are calling for up to 10 centimetres of additional rain next week, meaning the high water will likely stick around and potentially get even higher.

Several blocks of downtown Davenport were flooded this week when a flood barrier succumbed to the onslaught of water. The river at the Quad Cities has been at major flood stage or higher for 41 consecutive days.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds visited Davenport Friday.


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Historic flooding was happening elsewhere along the river, too. The National Weather Service is now projecting flood levels to reach the second- or third-highest ever at several Mississippi River towns in northeast Missouri — Hannibal, Louisiana, Clarksville and Winfield — and western Illinois towns such as Quincy, Alton and Grafton.

Grafton Mayor Rick Eberlin said in a conference call that included the leaders of other river towns that roads are closing around the town and that it’s working to get businesses to move out as waters rise. The town, which is 65 kilometres north of St. Louis, has no flood walls or levees. He said water is beginning to encroach upon city hall.

WATCH: Cautious optimism emerges from Canada’s flood zones





“We are at our wits end,” Eberlin said. “We are totally unprotected.”

Kimmswick, Missouri, Mayor Phil Stang said the community is building atop a permanent levee in hopes of holding back the water. “We’ve closed off the city completely. As soon as it rains, we are a bathtub.”

READ MORE: Canadian Red Cross raises $3M in donations for Quebec flood victims

Sandbagging efforts began Friday in Winfield, where the Pin Oak Levee was threatened. Winfield, about 80 kilometres north of St. Louis, was among many towns where volunteers were racing the clock to add sandbags to the tops of levees and around homes and businesses.

In Alton, the Argosy Casino Alton was forced to close on Friday as floodwaters crept higher into downtown. Alton’s mayor, Brant Walker, complained that the city is “doing flood control every eight months” and that the frequent business closures are hurting the city’s finances.

“We are barely keeping our head above water,” he said.

In St. Louis, the Gateway Arch remains open, even as floodwaters pour over the road beneath it.

READ MORE: Permafrost in Arctic is melting so fast it’s swallowing science equipment

The U.S. Coast Guard on Friday closed the Mississippi for a 8-kilometre stretch at St. Louis, citing both the high water and the swift current.

The Mississippi isn’t the only river bulging out of its banks. Moderate flooding at Missouri River towns like Washington and St. Charles in Missouri was causing headaches like road closures, but few homes were impacted.

The Meramec River in suburban St. Louis is rising fast and will crest Sunday and Monday around 4.5 metres above flood stage in towns like Arnold and Valley Park, threatening several homes and businesses.

Hollingsworth reported from Kansas City, Missouri. Margery Beck in Omaha, Nebraska, contributed to this report.



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FOREIGN NEWS

Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

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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
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA

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Harris accepts VP nomination

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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

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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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