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On the eve of the midterms, America’s heartland is as divided as ever – National

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PLYMOUTH, Wis. — By all accounts, this is a golden era in Wisconsin.

Unemployment is a paltry 2.9 per cent, and the overall economy is booming.

Foxconn, a major electronics manufacturer, is even planning to open a $10-billion factory in the state, employing up to 13,000 people.

There’s almost too much of a good thing, with a skilled labour shortage starting to cause problems for some employers.


READ MORE:
Young voters could tip the balance in U.S. midterm elections

But on Main Street in the town of Plymouth, there doesn’t seem to be a lot to smile about — at least not when you bring up politics.

“It’s not good, not good,” sighs Dave Schaefer, as he sits at the counter of the Hub City Diner.

On a Tuesday afternoon, Schaefer and the other lunchtime regulars are talking about the migrant caravan from Central America that they’ve seen on the news.

“They’re bringing their countries here and they want to re-establish them and that’s not going to work,” he said.

“They’re coming up here to sponge off of us,” fellow diner Don Piper worried.

Asked what they see as the biggest issue in the midterm elections, all of the men at the counter reply, “immigration.”

WATCH: Surge in voter registration among young adults prompts push to get youth to vote in 2018 U.S. midterms






It might seem surprising that immigration is top-of-mind in a small town 2,100 kilometres north of the Mexican border, but in the heart of Trump country, what the president says often goes.

When Trump talks about migrants, and caravans and immigration, his supporters listen.

“He’s turning out to be one great president,” said Piper, before returning to talk of the caravan.

“There probably are some very good people but there’s some that probably aren’t,” he said, echoing the words of Trump’s 2015 campaign kickoff speech.

The main street in Plymouth, Wis., where voters overwhelmingly support President Trump. Brett Carlson/Global News

Brett Carlson/Global News

No one here is talking about the Russia probe, White House turmoil, or the trade fight that’s hurting local dairy farmers.

Aside from immigration, the biggest worry is what happens if Democrats regain control of Congress during the midterm elections. “More chaos,” is the general prediction.

Most of the talk matches the combative us-versus-them tone heard right across America.

WATCH: Dairy, beer at the heart of the matter in Wisconsin for U.S. midterms






“You know they’re divided on so many issues,” said Becky Schultz as she sips a bowl of soup in a booth at the diner. Her message to politicians everywhere: “Just work together and make the country better.”

That might be wishful thinking at a time like this.

Drive 90 minutes down the highway to Milwaukee, and you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve travelled to another country.


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No one here is talking about immigration. The people outside the city’s Public Market have a different worry: President Trump.

“You don’t want to get me going on that dude,” Nancy Shropschrier said when asked what she thinks of the president.

“I think my vote will send Donald Trump a message, don’t you?” Shropschrier added, explaining that she plans to pick Democrats up and down the ticket during the midterms.

“I think he’s insane, I think he’s taking everything in the wrong direction,” said a woman named Joan. Her friend Veronica interrupted to say “I’m right along with her.”

WATCH: Republicans have enough indictments ‘to make up a football team,’ Obama jokes






Mitchell Stock explained that he has often voted Republican in the past, but not this time. “They’ve moved away from the centre,” he said, adding he’s fed up with “the party’s embracing of Trump and embracing of what they deem alternative facts, which are just lies.”

It seems just as in rural Wisconsin, Trump is driving voters in the city to the ballot box — albeit for very different reasons.

In the state capital of Madison, Prof. Barry Burden of the University of Wisconsin gives the lay of the political land.

“I think a lot of the things we’re seeing on the ground in Wisconsin look like what we’re seeing nationally,” he explained.


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He says there’s “a Democratic party that’s enthused and active” countered by Republicans “who are playing defence and hoping to hold on to what they have.”

That’s likely to make for some close races at the national, state and local level, in a state that Trump won by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016.

Both Trump and former president Barack Obama campaigned in the state in the final weeks of the campaign, with Trump visiting cheering crowds in the rural community of Mosinee, and Obama rallying supporters in urban Milwaukee.

If the political divide seems insurmountable, there’s at least some common ground. It’s fueled by frustration with a political system that feels broken to many on both sides.

“It’s sad that the parties can’t get together on this stuff, they could do so much better if they cooperated,” said soybean farmer Dan Fritz at the diner in Plymouth.

“There needs to come to a point where people are able to talk to each other without it becoming personal attacks on each other,” lamented Mitchell Stock in downtown Milwaukee.

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



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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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FOREIGN NEWS

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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