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Joe Biden begins aggressive campaign in red states

Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden is going on offense ahead of the first presidential debate to expand the electoral map, extending his paid media presence and deploying top surrogates in red states such as Iowa, Nebraska and Georgia. Mr. Biden and President Trump are looking for alternate paths to the 270 Electoral College votes…

Joe Biden begins aggressive campaign in red states

Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden is going on offense ahead of the first presidential debate to expand the electoral map, extending his paid media presence and deploying top surrogates in red states such as Iowa, Nebraska and Georgia.

Mr. Biden and President Trump are looking for alternate paths to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency, beyond the six core battlegrounds of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina and Arizona.

“I think Biden is hoping for a Hail Mary in states where demographic changes might give a Democrat a slim edge,” said Steffen W. Schmidt, a political science professor at Iowa State University.

Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff, the spouses of Mr. Biden and Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala D. Harris, teamed up to swing through Iowa and Nebraska over the weekend.

A growing Hispanic population “could really give us the edge we need in states like Georgia and Iowa,” Mrs. Biden said at a recent fundraiser.

Mr. Trump carried Iowa by close to 10 points in 2016. Republican Sen. Joni Ernst is also in a tough reelection fight against Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield.

Just across the state line, Mr. Biden is fighting to win Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, which Mr. Trump carried by about 2 percentage points in 2016.

Mr. Biden had a 7-point lead — 48% to 41% — over Mr. Trump in the district, according to a New York Times/Siena College polling released Monday.

Nebraska and Maine divvy up their electoral college votes by congressional district, and notching at least one vote in either state could mean the difference between securing the 270 electoral votes needed to capture the presidency and a 269-269 tie, which would throw the presidential election to the House.

Mr. Trump easily carried Maine’s 2nd Congressional District four years ago by about 10 points, though Mr. Biden is running competitively there.

Mr. Biden’s team recently rolled out new ad campaigns in Iowa and Georgia and has announced significant buys in 13 states, 10 of which Mr. Trump carried in 2016.

The other three are Minnesota, Nevada, and New Hampshire, which Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton carried narrowly in 2016.

“We’re kind of ground zero to a certain extent,” said Jason Thompson, a Republican National Committee member from Georgia. “Georgia’s a hotly contested state.”

Georgia is also home to two competitive Senate elections, making it difficult to ignore even if Mr. Biden faces an uphill climb to pull out a victory there.

Mr. Trump carried Georgia by about 5 points in 2016.

“When you’re campaigning, you have to spend your money,” Mr. Thompson said. “We expected the Biden campaign or some of these nonprofits to put money in [and] spend money in Georgia.”

Mr. Biden can expand his footprint in those “reach” states thanks to a $466 million-to-$325 million cash-on-hand edge over Mr. Trump to start September. Those totals reflect dollars from the candidates’ campaigns, associated committees and party money.

The Democrats currently have “mucho dinero” to play with, as Mr. Schmidt put it.

“Fishing in [those] waters may be a smart investment,” he said.

Mr. Biden is also able to expand his targets because he is receiving outside air support from deep-pocketed Democrats in the core states.

Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York mayor and presidential candidate, has vowed to spend at least $100 million on efforts to push Mr. Biden across the finish line in Florida.

Priorities USA, a leading outside super PAC, recently announced it was bolstering its advertising in Pennsylvania by more than $7 million, including TV ad spending in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre.

“Pennsylvania is the tipping point state in this election and Priorities is going to do everything we can there to help elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris,” said Guy Cecil, chairman of the group.

Recent polling has shown a tightening race in Pennsylvania, a linchpin state that Mr. Trump carried in 2016 by about 44,000 votes.

Mr. Biden can still cobble together exactly 270 electoral college votes even if he loses Pennsylvania by holding all the states Mrs. Clinton carried in 2016 and winning back Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and the 2nd district in either Nebraska or Maine.

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Turkey begins military exercises in Northern Cyprus |NationalTribune.com

Turkey’s armed forces on Sunday began annual exercises in the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – an entity recognised only by Ankara – as tensions continue to rise with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey’s hunt for gas and oil reserves in waters claimed by Greece has put a huge strain on the relationship…

Turkey begins military exercises in Northern Cyprus |NationalTribune.com

Turkey’s armed forces on Sunday began annual exercises in the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – an entity recognised only by Ankara – as tensions continue to rise with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey’s hunt for gas and oil reserves in waters claimed by Greece has put a huge strain on the relationship between the two NATO members. 

As tensions run high, the Turkish military began its exercises called “Mediterranean Storm” with the Turkish Cypriot Security Command, Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Twitter. 
“The security priorities of our country and the TRNC [Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus] are indispensable, along with diplomatic solutions in the eastern Mediterranean,” Oktay said. 
The Turkish defence ministry also tweeted the military exercises, which last until Thursday, continued “successfully”.
Cyprus is divided between the Greek Cypriot-run south – an EU member state – and the Turkish Cypriot north. 
Turkey has stationed tens of thousands of troops in the north of the island since its 1974 invasion, which followed a coup engineered by military rulers in Greece.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and European Council President Charles Michel discussed developments in the eastern Mediterranean on Sunday during a phone call.
The Turkish leader “invited EU institutions and member states to be fair, impartial, and objective and to act responsibly on regional issues, particularly the eastern Mediterranean”, the president’s office said in a statement.
Michel said on Friday that European Union leaders will decide on a “carrot and stick” approach to Turkey when they meet on September 24-25, proposing a conference to defuse tensions.
Meanwhile, Erdogan met Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj in Istanbul on Sunday to hold talks on the tensions in the Mediterranean among other issues.
According to Turkey’s Directorate of Communications, the leaders discussed the steps to protect the rights of Turkey and Libya in the Eastern Mediterranean and terms to strengthen the cooperation in the region under a deal signed between the two sides.
In November 2019, Ankara and Tripoli signed an agreement covering their maritime boundaries in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey sanctions
Erdogan on Saturday raised the stakes by warning Greece: “They will either understand the language of politics and diplomacy, or on the field through bitter experiences.”
France said Turkey’s escalating conflict with Greece and Cyprus will be the main subject at this month’s European Council meeting, when sanctions will be considered against Ankara.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said he and his counterparts in other EU countries had already discussed “the range of reprisals we could take with regards to Turkey”.
Turkey embarked on a military-backed hydrocarbon exploration venture in waters between Greece and Cyprus on August 10, ratcheting up tensions in a strategic corridor of the Eastern Mediterranean.
Greece responded with naval exercises to defend its maritime territory, which were later bolstered by the deployment of French frigates and fighter jets.
‘Up to the Turks’
The dispute between NATO members has underscored the rising geopolitical risks in the area as Turkey pursues more aggressively nationalist policies under Erdogan.
The European Union’s diplomatic chief Josep Borrell has also raised the possibility of sanctions against Ankara, but so far Paris has been unable to persuade other EU nations to join its hardline response.
Le Drian urged Erdogan to begin talks over its Eastern Mediterranean ambitions between now and the European Council meeting.
“It’s up to the Turks to show that this matter … can be discussed,” he told France Inter radio. “If so, we can create a virtuous circle for all the problems on the table.”
While he declined to specify the type of sanctions Ankara could face, he said there was an “entire series of measures”. 
“We are not short of options – and he knows that,” said Le Drian referring to Erdogan.

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Ethiopia begins filling Grand Renaissance dam on Blue Nile |NationalTribune.com

Ethiopia has acknowedged the water levels behind the giant hydroelectric dam it is building on the Blue Nile River are increasing, though officials described this a natural part of the construction process. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been a source of tension in the Nile River basin ever since Ethiopia broke ground on it in 2011, with…

Ethiopia begins filling Grand Renaissance dam on Blue Nile |NationalTribune.com

Ethiopia has acknowedged the water levels behind the giant hydroelectric dam it is building on the Blue Nile River are increasing, though officials described this a natural part of the construction process.
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has been a source of tension in the Nile River basin ever since Ethiopia broke ground on it in 2011, with downstream countries Egypt and Sudan worried it will restrict vital water supplies.
Addis Ababa says the project offers a critical opportunity to pull millions of its nearly 110 million citizens out of poverty. It has has long intended to begin filling the dam’s reservoir this month, in the middle of its rainy season, though it has not said exactly when.Cairo and Khartoum are pushing for the three countries first to reach an agreement on how it will be operated.
“The GERD water filling is being done in line with the dam’s natural construction process,” Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s water minister, was quoted by state media as saying on Wednesday, a day after talks with Sudan and Egypt on the project stalled.
He said the water level had increased from 525 metres to 560 metres, but did not say whether Ethiopia had taken steps to store the water in the reservoir. The area has also seen recent heavy rainfall.
Seleshi had tweeted earlier in the day: “The inflow into the reservoir due to heavy rainfall and runoff exceeded the outflow and created natural pooling. This continues until overflow is triggered soon.”
William Davison, an analyst with International Crisis Group (ICG), said Ethiopia has not stated explicitly whether the water backing up behind the dam is due to the remaining outlets being closed, or whether it is simply water accumulating behind the almost complete structure during the rainy season”.
Interactive: Saving the Nile
Egypt has asked Ethiopia for urgent clarification on the matter, its foreign ministry said.
Cairo told the United Nations last month it faces an “existential threat” from the hydroelectric dam.

Sudan’s government, meanwhile, said water levels on the Blue Nile had declined by 90 million cubic metres per day after Ethiopia started filling the dam on its side of the border.
Sudan rejects unilateral actions taken by any party as negotiating efforts continue between the two countries and Egypt, its irrigation ministry said in a statement.
“It was evident from the flow metres in the Dimim border station with Ethiopia that there is a retreat in the water levels … confirming the closure of the gates of the Renaissance Dam,” it said.
‘Sovereign right’
Relying on the Nile for more than 90 percent of its water supply and already facing high water stress, Egypt fears a devastating effect on its population of 100 million.
In June, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry warned conflict could erupt if the UN fails to intervene, as the dam endangers the lives of 150 million Egyptians and Sudanese.
Ahmed Soliman, a research fellow with Chatham House, noted Egypt’s water requirements already outpace its availability.
“What we have in Egypt is a significant gap between the amount of water they produce and the amount of water they consume. And with a rapidly growing population of more than 100 million, it points to this problem only getting worse,” Soliman told Al Jazeera. 
Awol Allo, from Keele University in the UK, said Egypt is demanding adherence to a 1959 water treaty, signed between Cairo and Khartoum, that gave Egypt the lion’s share of the Nile’s annual flow.
Ethiopia was not included in that colonial-era treaty.
“I think Ethiopia has been negotiating for a considerable amount of time in good faith to reach a settlement on this issue, but the Egyptians insist on the 1959 treaty as the starting point,” Allo told Al Jazeera.
“There is strong public support for the Ethiopian government to get on with the dam. The majority of Ethiopians are on the same page – that is it is their sovereign right to fill and open the dam.”

Egypt, Ethiopia discuss Nile dam dispute at UN Security Council

Africa’s largest dam
Cairo was anxious to secure a legally binding deal that would guarantee minimum flows and a mechanism for resolving disputes before the dam started operating.
Sudan stands to benefit from the project through access to cheap electricity and reduced flooding, but it has also raised fears over the dam’s operation.
The dam is being built 15km (nine miles) from the border with Sudan on the Blue Nile, the source of most of the Nile’s waters. 
The latest round of negotiations between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over the contentious dam ended with no agreement on Tuesday, according to Egyptian and Sudanese officials.
The failure sank modest hopes the three countries could resolve their differences and sign an agreement on the dam’s operation before Ethiopia began to fill the $4.6bn Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), set to be Africa’s largest.
Ethiopia says more than 60 percent of the country is dry land with no sustaining water resources, while Egypt is endowed with groundwater and has access to seawater that could be desalinated.
Addis Ababa had previously pledged to start storing water in the dam’s vast reservoir at the start of the wet season in July, when rains flood the Blue Nile.
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