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At least nine dead in Camp Fire, California’s most destructive wildfire ever – National

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Crews on Saturday fought two massive, out of control wildfires burning at both ends of California, including a blaze now considered the most destructive in state history and a conflagration menacing the tony beach colony of Malibu.


READ MORE:
Incendiary photos show the damage in Paradise, a town that a California wildfire ‘destroyed’

At least nine people were killed in and around the Northern California community of Paradise as the Camp Fire burned down more than 6,700 homes and businesses, more structures than any other California wildfire on record.

Paradise Mayor Jody Jones said most of the town’s homes and about half its businesses had been left in ruins, predicting a long road of recovery was ahead for the town of about 26,000 residents.

“It’s going to be a process, a lot of hard work, a lot of coming together, but we want to see Paradise be paradise again,” Jones told CNN.

WATCH: California wildfires: Flames from Woolsey fire whip up ‘firenado’ in Malibu






Several of the victims of the Camp Fire, which broke out on Thursday at the edge of the Plumas National Forest northeast of Sacramento, were found in or near burned out cars, police said.

The flames descended on Paradise so fast that many people were forced to abandon their vehicles and run for their lives down the sole road through the mountain town.

Some 35 people had been reported missing and three firefighters had been injured.


READ MORE:
Still in shock over bar massacre, California town now menaced by approaching wildfires

As of Saturday afternoon the Camp Fire had blackened more than 100,000 acres (40,500 hectares) of forest land. Crews had cut containment lines around about 20 per cent of the blaze.

About 800 km to the south, the Woolsey Fire burning in the foothills above Malibu doubled in size overnight, threatening thousands of homes after triggering mandatory evacuation orders for a quarter million people in the oceanside city as well as other communities in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

The fire has destroyed “a lot of homes,” with a full count still under way, and has now charred more than 70,000 acres, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said.

WATCH: Officials say another wind event is expected to fan wildfire flames






“Our firefighters have been facing some extreme, tough fire conditions that they said that they’ve never seen in their lives,” Osby said at a news conference.

He said crews hoped to take advantage of a lull on Saturday in the fierce Santa Ana winds driving the flames, but that gusts could return on Sunday.

All 13,000 residents of Malibu, which is 30 miles west of downtown Los Angeles, were told to get out on Friday.

The bodies of two people were discovered in Malibu but it was too early to determine if they died from fire or another cause, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials said.


READ MORE:
California wildfires: 5 people found dead in cars trying to flee

Firefighters have been unable to build any containment lines around the Woolsey Fire, but officials said they hoped to take advantage of a lull in winds on Saturday to make progress.

The Woolsey Fire broke out on Thursday in Ventura County near Los Angeles and quickly jumped the 101 Freeway, a major north-south artery, in several places.

On Friday, it crossed the Santa Monica Mountains toward Malibu, where flames driven by wind gusts of up to 80 kph raced down hillsides and through canyons toward multi-million dollar homes.

WATCH: Mandatory evacuations for parts of the city of Los Angeles






Early on Saturday, flames approached Malibu’s Pepperdine University, a private residential college with 7,700 students, where many remained sheltered on the main campus.

School officials told the students that they have been assured by fire officials that the university’s buildings were built to withstand fire.

Among those forced to flee the Malibu area were celebrities including Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian, who said on Twitter that flames had damaged the home she shares in nearby Calabasas with Kanye West.

WATCH: California wildfires: Malibu home collapses as it is engulfed in flames






In Ventura County, most of the town of Thousand Oaks was ordered evacuated, adding to the anguish days after a gunman killed 12 people in a shooting rampage at a bar.

President Donald Trump, weighing in on the emergency during a trip to France, said early on Saturday that “gross mismanagement of forests” was to blame.

“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” he wrote in a Twitter post.

WATCH: Officials say Camp fire was ‘worst-case scenario’






Trump, a Republican, has previously blamed California officials for fires and threatened to withhold funding, saying the state should do more to remove rotten trees and other debris that fuel blazes.

State officials have blamed climate change and say many of the burn areas have been in federally-managed lands.

“Our focus is on the Californians impacted by these fires and the first responders and firefighters working around the clock to save lives and property – not on the President’s inane and uninformed tweets,” Evan Westrub, a spokesman for California Governor Jerry Brown said in an email.



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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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FOREIGN NEWS

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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