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Trump sending troops to the border will cost U.S. taxpayers $210 million, Pentagon says – National

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Using thousands of military troops to help secure the Southwest border will cost an estimated $210 million under current plans, the Pentagon told Congress on Tuesday, even as questions arose about the scope and duration of the controversial mission.

The total includes $72 million for approximately 5,900 active-duty troops providing support to Customs and Border Protection, plus $138 million so far for 2,100 National Guard troops who have been performing a separate border mission since April, according to a report sent to Congress on Tuesday but not released by the Pentagon.


READ MORE:
Why Trump’s 5,200 troops can’t stop migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border

A copy of the report was obtained by The Associated Press. After the AP published its story the Pentagon released a statement confirming the active-duty portion of the deployments is estimated at $72 million. It did not mention the $138 million in National Guard costs.

WATCH BELOW: Trump warns of caravan ‘invasion’ ahead of U.S. midterms






The total would grow beyond the current combined estimate of $210 million if the active-duty mission is extended beyond the current completion date of Dec. 15. Officials said an extension appeared likely but had not yet been agreed upon.

The Pentagon also was working on a potential adjustment to the mission that would give the active-duty troops who are operating in Texas, Arizona and California the authority to defend Customs and Border Protection personnel if necessary. The troops, who include military police, are currently authorized to defend themselves.


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About 2,800 of the active-duty troops are in South Texas, far from the main migrant caravan in Tijuana, Mexico, south of California. The movement of the Central American migrants into Mexico in October was the stated reason that U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the military to provide support for Customs and Border Protection.

Trump, who called the migrant caravan an “invasion,” has been accused by critics, including some retired military officers, of using the military deployment as a political tool in the run-up to the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

WATCH BELOW: U.S. Marines lay barbed wire at border checkpoint






Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, said Tuesday the Pentagon’s cost report shows the mission was a “charade.”

“These soldiers spent weeks away from home and the Pentagon wasted millions of taxpayer dollars so President Trump could stoke fears of asylum seekers and try to influence election results,” she said.

“Using our military men and women as political pawns to support an anti-immigrant agenda is a low point, even for this president.”

On Tuesday, Trump said he was sure the troops are happy to be on the border mission, even though it means being away from home over Thanksgiving.

“Don’t worry about the Thanksgiving. These are tough people,” Trump told reporters before flying to Florida for the holiday. “They know what they’re doing and they’re great and they’ve done a great job. You’re so worried about the Thanksgiving holiday for them. They are so proud to be representing our country on the border where if you look at what’s happening, Mexico, the people from Tijuana are saying, wow these are tough people. They’re fighting us.”

WATCH BELOW: Protests greet migrant caravan in Tijuana






If, as expected, the mission is extended beyond Dec. 14, at least some of the troops are likely also to be away for Christmas.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has declined to publicly discuss cost estimates for the border mission, saying as recently as last week that he had little confidence in the accuracy of figures he had seen thus far.

“We can estimate costs all we want, I’d prefer to give you real costs. Right now, I can’t give that to you,” Mattis told reporters last Wednesday when he flew to Texas to see the military’s work.

“It’s the cost of deploying them, it’s the cost of transferring their equipment to the border, it’s fuel costs, it’s all those kinds of costs. So, I just don’t want to get into something I can’t give you what I believe confidently is accurate.”

In its report to Congress on Tuesday, the Pentagon said it expects the deployment of 5,900 active-duty troops through Dec. 15 to cost $72 million, while adding that the mission, which is now three weeks old, is still being refined. The cost includes $19 million for personnel, $20 million for transportation of personnel, equipment and supplies, $28 in operating expenses and $5 million for concertina wire and other border barrier materials.

“The total cost of the operation has yet to be determined and will depend on the total size, duration and scope,” the report said.

WATCH BELOW: Drone footage shows migrants at the border in Tijuana






It said that as of Nov. 14, about $14 million in actual payments for expenses such as travel, supplies and transportation had been reported by the units involved.

The National Guard’s border mission, which is being conducted by troops for numerous states, has cost an estimated $138 million as of Tuesday, the Pentagon report said. That mission, involving about 2,100 troops, began in April.



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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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