This frame grab from a video provided on Friday, July 29, 2022, shows A Syrian cargo ship Laodicea docked at a seaport, in Tripoli, north Lebanon. Lebanon appeared Friday to reject claims by the Ukrainian Embassy in Beirut that a Syrian ship docked i
This frame grab from a video provided on Friday, July 29, 2022, shows A Syrian cargo ship Laodicea docked at a seaport, in Tripoli, north Lebanon. Lebanon appeared Friday to reject claims by the

When Susan Mujawa Ananda heard a deaf man had been shot and wounded in Uganda for breaking a curfew during the pandemic his family said he knew nothing about, she resolved to set up an online television channel for deaf people.

plant sustained a barrage of shelling amid Russian attacks in several regions, Ukraine’s presidential office said.

At least four civilians were killed and 10 more wounded over the past 24 hours, with nine Ukrainian regions coming under fire, the office said in its daily update.

Two districts of Mykolaiv, which has been targeted frequently in recent weeks, were shelled.

Russian forces reportedly fired 60 rockets at Nikopol, in the central Dnipropetrovsk region. Some 50 residential buildings were damaged in the city of 107,000 and some projectiles hit power lines, leaving city residents without electricity, according to Ukrainian authorities.

Nikopol is located across the Dnieper river from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which was taken over by Russian troops early in the war.

China began its promised military drills in the airspace and waters around Taiwan on Thursday, as the Beijing-claimed island braces for the potential fallout of U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit.

China’s People’s Liberation Army launched several ballistic missiles into waters off northeastern and southwestern Taiwan starting at 1:56 p.m. (1:56 a.m. ET), Taiwan’s military news agency reported, citing the defense ministry. The ministry condemned what it called China’s “irrational actions,” saying they undermined regional peace.

About an hour earlier, the PLA began what are believed to be unprecedented live-fire drills in six zones that effectively encircle Taiwan’s main island, which is about 100 miles off the coast of China. The drills were announced shortly after Pelosi arrived in Taiwan late Tuesday night, and are set to last until Sunday.

Chinese state media reported that the exercises had “achieved the expected results.”

“The reason why he was shot … is because he didn’t know what was happening in the country. He didn’t know that there was a curfew,” Ananda, a sign language interpreter, told Reuters.

Late last year, she teamed up with a deaf friend, Simon Eroku, and after winning a grant they founded SignsTV, which runs news bulletins for deaf people, delivered by deaf people.

Slightly over a million people in Uganda, out of a total population of about 45 million, have a hearing disability and most of them have limited access to TV news due to a lack of sign language services on established channels.

But Beltway strategists in both parties questioned the degree to which it would have a real electoral impact.

The popular view was that people for whom abortion is a pivotal issue already vote in every election — and that the economy would dominate November’s midterms.

Now, that idea looks far more questionable.

On Tuesday, voters in Kansas delivered a seismic shock, handing the pro-choice side a victory in one of the most deep-red states in the nation.

The proposal before the electorate would have stated explicitly that the Kansas constitution confers no right to abortion. It was rejected by about 18 points amid a massive turnout.

An abundance of national polling also shows Democrats’ chances improving in the midterms.

The Democratic rise in the polls seems to have commenced in or around late June — at exactly the same time the Supreme Court handed down its decision.

There could be other factors at play, including gas prices having declined from their highest levels. But it seems clear abortion is playing a big part.

On the day of the Supreme Court decision, data and polling site FiveThirtyEight gave Republicans a 53 percent chance of controlling the Senate after the midterms. Now, that has declined to 43 percent.

A Monmouth University poll released Wednesday gave Democrats a seven-point advantage among all adults when respondents were asked which party they would prefer to see control Congress. The last time Monmouth polled that question, in June, the result was a tie.

The RealClearPolitics polling average showed Republicans with a 3.4-point lead over Democrats on the day the Supreme Court ruled. The margin has now dwindled to three-tenths of a point.

Democrats, though they are horrified by the loss of Roe, believe the Supreme Court has sparked a huge backlash — and that their party leaders need to press the political advantage.

“We are at such a tipping point now,” Democratic operative Abigail Collazo told this column. “We have the right message. Our message is aligned with the will of the voters. But where this could go off the rails is if the Democratic Party decides not to put the money behind the groundwork in states where this message can really make the difference.”

Other advocates of abortion rights assert that the Supreme Court decision has made the issue far more politically salient — and to a wider group of voters than ever before.

“A lot of people assumed, I think, that Roe v. Wade would always be the law of the land,” said Sam Lau, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Votes. “What has changed is the direct threat now, and how it is making headlines every day. I think that is going to be a motivating force to bring people to the polls like never before.”

Those hopes clearly extend to the White House and congressional leaders.

President Biden asserted on Wednesday that Republicans and others pressing an anti-abortion agenda “don’t have a clue about the power of American women.” He added, “In Kansas, they found out.”

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor that Kansas voters had “sent an unmistakable message to MAGA Republican extremists: back off women’s fundamental rights.”

And White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Wednesday that the previous 24 hours had seen “a lot of momentum…in our fight to restore Roe.”

In addition to the Kansas vote, Jean-Pierre pointed to the Department of Justice’s decision to sue Idaho over especially onerous restrictions on abortion set to take effect later this month. 

She also noted the president’s signing of an executive order Wednesday designed to make it easier for women to travel out of state to obtain abortions.

To be sure, none of this makes it certain either that abortion restrictions can be rolled back or that Democrats can avoid electoral defeat in November.

Anti-abortion activists insist that the issue energizes their side as much as their opponents. They are casting the Kansas defeat as a minor setback in a longer, victorious march.

Meanwhile, Republicans and some independent analysts question whether abortion really has the power to reshape a political landscape otherwise dominated by economic issues.

Reacting to Biden’s comments Wednesday, Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel released a statement insisting, “Our country is in a recession, Americans can’t afford gas or groceries, and yet all Joe Biden cares about is pushing his radical and unpopular late-term abortion agenda.”

But Democrats like Collazo argue that the supposed division between “social issues” and “kitchen-table issues” is a false dichotomy when abortion access is in such self-evident peril.

“It is a kitchen table issue,” she argued. “People are talking about this in the grocery store, with their loved ones, in their faith communities.”

Meanwhile the diminishing band of pro-choice Republicans lament the direction the party has taken.

“At present, the Republican Party seems to be in the thrall of the far-right faction,” said Susan Bevan, a former national co-chairwoman of the now-defunct Republican Majority for Choice, a group that advocated for pro-choice policies within the GOP.

“A Republican Party that was affiliated with limited government and fiscal responsibility has changed to be the party that I see now.”

The new station, which made its first broadcast in April and employs eight staff including four deaf anchors, operates from a studio in a Kampala suburb.

In a typical broadcast on SignsTV Uganda, the news is read by two deaf anchors and simultaneously signed by a sign language interpreter, going slowly to match the anchor’s pace, while the screen also carries subtitles.

The deaf man whose story moved Ananda to act, was shot in the leg in a village in northern Uganda in April 2020, by a member of the Local Defence Unit (LDU), a para military force that sometimes operates alongside regular police and the military. His leg later had to be amputated. Police at the time told local media they would investigate. They were not available for new comment on the case.

BEIRUT — A Syrian ship that Ukraine says is carrying stolen Ukrainian grain has left a Lebanese port after officials in Lebanon allowed it to sail following an investigation, Lebanon’s transport minister tweeted on Thursday.

The Syrian-flagged Laodicea had been anchored at the port of Tripoli since it arrived last Thursday, carrying 10,000 tons of wheat flour and barley. Ukraine says the grain was stolen by Russia, a claim it denies.

On Wednesday, Ukrainian Ambassador to Lebanon Ihor Ostash urged Lebanon not to allow the vessel to leave the port.

A judge on Wednesday said the Laodicea can sail, a day after Lebanon’s prosecutor general decided the ship could leave after an investigation showed it was not carrying stolen Ukrainian grain.

Transport Minister Ali Hamie tweeted that “Syrian-flagged Laodicea is now outside Lebanon’s territorial waters.”

It was not immediately clear where the ship is heading but Marine Traffic, a website that monitors vessel traffic and location of ships on seas, showed it moving toward the Syrian coast.

Laodicea’s departure is likely to anger Ukraine. Russia’s diplomatic mission in Lebanon praised the move, accusing Ukraine of lying about the cargo and trying to damage relations between Moscow and Beirut.

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned the Syrian ship in 2015 for its affiliation with the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad, a close political and military ally to Moscow.

The spat over the Laodicea came as the first grain ship left Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in late February. The Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni, carrying 26,000 tons of Ukrainian corn, was passing through Turkey on route to Lebanon.

A Lebanese official told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the ship is expected to take about four days to arrive to Lebanon from Istanbul after it was searched.

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