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Trump campaign runs out of cash

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U.S. President Donald Trump campaign machine is in the throes of a cash crunch, forcing it to pull back television advertising in some crucial states.

A flustered Trump will now embark on a heavier fundraising schedule in the coming weeks, seeking money from small and big donors, a strategy that his Democratic rival Joe Biden has been using.

Trump’s campaign started the year with more than 10 times as much money as Democratic rival Joe Biden.

But to the alarm of some Republican donors, the former vice president closed the gap as Democratic donors consolidated behind him and the Trump campaign burned through its cash more quickly.

Biden, who leads Trump in most national and battleground state polling ahead of the Nov. 3 election, had about $99 million in the bank to Trump’s $121 million by the end of July, according to disclosures by each side’s campaign.

But in August, Biden outraised Trump nearly $365 million to $210 million in August.

“I am flabbergasted that the money lead we had in February has completely evaporated,” said Dan Eberhart, a Republican fundraiser and executive in the oil and gas industry who cut a $100,000 check to the Trump Victory Fund in June.

Trump this week said his campaign had to spend millions on advertisements earlier this year to fight the impression that he mishandled the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 194,000 Americans and devastated the U.S. economy.

A couple of donors questioned whether the campaign’s purchase of a multi-million dollar ad during the Super Bowl in February so far ahead of the election, as well as ads in the heavily Democratic Washington, D.C. market in June, were more about Trump’s vanity than strategy.

Eberhart said some of the campaign’s recent actions, including buying ads in few-day increments as opposed to weekly and going dark in some states for a stretch, suggested the campaign now faces a cash pinch.

Bill Stepien, who became Trump’s campaign manager in July, told reporters this week that the campaign was “very comfortable and confident in how we’re spending and where we’re spending.”

Biden is poised to outspend Trump on ads in the final weeks of the race.

The Democrat’s campaign has booked about $181 million in television and radio ad spending between September and November, compared to $156 million by the Trump campaign, according to ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics.

The current bookings show Biden will spend more than Trump in battleground states North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, and Wisconsin. Trump is slated to outspend Biden in Florida and Ohio.

Stepien said in a statement that the incumbent’s campaign has invested heavily in a field operation and ground game aimed at turning out voters “while the Biden campaign is waging almost exclusively an air war.”

“We like our strategy better,” Stepien said.

In the final stretch of the race, the Trump campaign will increase its outreach to donors of all means, advisers said.

Trump’s weekend agenda includes meeting with deep-pocketed donors on Saturday in Washington and on Sunday in Las Vegas, where an event is expected to raise $4 million.

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Mali’s ex-defense minister Ba N’Daou named transition president

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Mali’s former defence minister Ba N’Daou has been announced as president of a new transition government, the leader of the Sahel state’s ruling military junta said on national television Monday.

According to a roadmap backed by the junta, the new president is meant to lead the country for several months before staging elections and returning Mali to civilian rule.

The African Union had called on the military junta in Mali to quickly appoint civilian leaders to manage an 18-month transition towards elections after last month’s coup.

The AU’s 15-member security body late Thursday echoed the West African regional bloc ECOWAS, which imposed sanctions on landlocked Mali after the coup toppled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita met with West African leaders this week in Ghana but failed to resolve a critical sticking point — whether soldiers or civilians will lead the transition.

ECOWAS called for a civilian-led transition government to be installed “in days” and said the bloc would lift its sanctions — which include closed borders and a ban on trade and financial flows — once the change has been made.

Smail Chergui, the AU’s peace and security commissioner, said on Twitter Thursday night that he was calling “for a return to constitutional order and early civilian-led transition in Mali”.

A separate Twitter post from the official AU Peace and Security Department account said it backed ECOWAS’ call for an 18-month civilian transition.

It also “welcomed” the putschists’ decision to release Keita — who was detained for more than a week — but said they should also free prime minister Boubou Cisse and “other dignitaries”.

The AU announced the day after the coup that it was suspending Mali “until restoration of constitutional order”, and it is unclear what additional leverage it has.

But a spokesman for the junta, Colonel Ismael Wague, said after this week’s talks in Ghana that Mali could face a “total embargo” from ECOWAS if it does not quickly appoint civilian leaders.

The sanctions could bite in the poor country already facing a severe economic downturn as well as a simmering jihadist insurgency and chronic inter-ethnic violence.

Wague nevertheless made clear the junta would prefer the transition be run by the military, and claimed that was also the preference of the majority of Malians.

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Four Cameroonian soldiers jailed 10 years for murder

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Four Cameroonian soldiers were sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison and another to two years for the execution-style killings of two women and their two children in a region where the army is fighting jihadists.

A video was broadcast on social media in July 2018 showing soldiers shooting two kneeling blindfolded women as well as a baby on one of their backs and a girl.

The government initially denied the involvement of its army, but later arrested seven suspects. Two were acquitted.

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7 killed, 4 injured in ‘massacre’ in south-western Colombia

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Seven people were killed and four others injured in an attack in south-western Colombia on Sunday, local media reported.

“Seven young people … were massacred with grenades and gunshots,” Senator Temistocles Ortega told broadcaster Caracol.

The attack happened in Munchique, in the south-western state of Cauca.

“You have no alternatives in Cauca,” Ortega said, adding that those who live there are “exposed to criminals of all types.”

Army spokesman Marco Vinicio Mayorga told the broadcaster that the crime was “preliminarily attributed” to the Jaime Martinez column, which emerged from the 2016 demobilization of the guerrilla movement FARC and operates in the area.

The country’s ombudsman for human rights condemned the Cauca events on Twitter, saying: “We urgently need to eradicate the … violence which affects rights and constantly endanger the lives of Colombians.”

More than 240 people have died in 60 massacres – defined as killings of at least three people – in the country so far this year, according to the NGO Indepaz, which monitors the violence.

According to the NGO, the Monchique attack was the eleventh this month alone.

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