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Iowa State receiver Hutchinson savors another college season

By ANDREW LOGUE

AMES, Iowa (AP) — A broken thumb suffered last season may prove to be a blessing for the Iowa State football team and receiver Xavier Hutchinson.

The Jacksonville, Fla., native established himself as one of the Big 12’s premier pass catchers in 2020 and 2021, but his hopes of entering the NFL took a hit last December.

“I definitely explored it,” said Hutchinson, who has 147 career receptions for 1,758 yards and nine touchdowns. “There were just certain things I didn’t have in my control.”

Hutchinson underwent a surgical procedure after a piece of bone in his left thumb became detached, but he returned to play with a cast in the Cyclones’ 20-13 loss to Clemson in the Cheez-It Bowl.

His lone catch in that game was a diving, 34-yard grab – against Tigers’ cornerback Mario Goodrich, now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles – that brought Iowa State fans to their feet and set an example for Hutchinson’s younger teammates.

“I was actually kind of stunned a little bit,” Cyclone wideout Jaylin Noel said of Hutchinson’s catch, “but then again, it’s Xavier.”

This is not the first time Hutchinson’s dreams have been delayed or in doubt.

He enrolled at Blinn (Texas) College out of high school, but didn’t play in any of his first five games.

“I really didn’t think I was going to get any (scholarship) offers,” Hutchison said. “And I sure enough wasn’t going to get a Power Five school to look at me.

“But coach (Matt) Campbell said he saw something in me, just from practice.”

Campbell, entering his seventh season at Iowa State, took a chance of Hutchinson, who blossomed into a two-time, first-team, all-Big 12 selection.

This summer, he was named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list, given annually to the nation’s top receiver.

“X is a unique player,” Campbell said. “He can do a lot of different things. The best thing is, getting the football in his hands. He is a dynamic playmaker.”

Hutchinson will be the most reliable playmaker for a Cyclone offense that is replacing quarterback Brock Purdy, who passed for 12,170 yards and 81 touchdowns the previous four years – helping Iowa State post a 31-20 record and appear in four bowl games.

Hunter Dekkers is the new starter, having completed 20 of 36 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns as a backup in 2021.

Hutchinson is already Dekkers’ favorite target.

“It’s the best feeling a quarterback could ask for,” Dekkers said. “He’s one of the best receivers in the country. He does everything really well.”

The Cyclones finished a disappointing 7-6 last season, after expectations for the program were elevated following a 9-3 record in 2020 and the school’s first-ever appearance in the Big 12 Championship game.

Hutchinson’s thumb is fully healed and he wants to help Iowa State make amends.

“I think Hunter is a good enough quarterback,” Hutchinson said. “I’m just there to make him look good, and him make me look good.”

Hutchinson’s former basketball-playing mother, Denise, and former track star father, Trent, both served in the Navy. The work ethic they instilled included regular 6 a.m. wakeup calls for Xavier.

“They knew what they wanted out of their son,” Hutchinson said.

Those expectations are being passed on to the rest of the Cyclones.

“He’s a guy who comes in and makes sure his leadership is felt,” Noel said of Hutchinson. “He makes sure the whole wide-receiver group is where they need to be and doing what they need to do.

“He as a teammate really elevates our whole team.”

Hutchinson, meanwhile, is embracing his role and his return to Iowa State.

“Most definitely it was a blessing in disguise,” he said of the injury. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

Pelosi says US will not abandon Taiwan as China protests

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi left Taiwan after a visit that heightened tensions with China, saying Wednesday that she and other members of Congress in her delegation showed they will not abandon their commitment to the self-governing island.

Pelosi, the first U.S. speaker to visit the island in more than 25 years, courted Beijing’s wrath with the visit and set off more than a week of debate over whether it was a good idea after news of it leaked. In Taipei she remained calm but defiant.

“Today the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy,” she said in a short speech during a meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. “America’s determination to preserve democracy, here in Taiwan and around the world, remains ironclad.”

Pelosi arrived at a military base in South Korea on Wednesday evening ahead of meetings with political leaders in Seoul, after which she will visit Japan. Both countries are U.S. alliance partners, together hosting about 80,000 American personnel as a bulwark against North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and China’s increased assertiveness in the South China and East China seas.

China, which claims Taiwan as its territory and opposes any engagement by Taiwanese officials with foreign governments, announced multiple military exercises around the island, parts of which will enter Taiwanese waters, and issued a series of harsh statements after the delegation touched down Tuesday night in the Taiwanese capital, Taipei.

Taiwan decried the planned actions, saying they violated the island’s sovereignty.

“Such an act equals to sealing off Taiwan by air and sea, such an act covers our country’s territory and territorial waters, and severely violates our country’s territorial sovereignty,” Capt. Jian-chang Yu said at a briefing by the National Defense Ministry.

The Chinese military exercises, including live fire, are to start Thursday and be the largest aimed at Taiwan since 1995, when China fired missiles in a large-scale exercise to show its displeasure at a visit by then-Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui to the U.S.

Taiwanese President Tsai responded firmly Wednesday to Beijing’s military intimidation.

“Facing deliberately heightened military threats, Taiwan will not back down,” Tsai said at her meeting with Pelosi. “We will firmly uphold our nation’s sovereignty and continue to hold the line of defense for democracy.”

In Washington, John Kirby, spokesperson for the National Security Council, said Wednesday that the United States was anticipating more military drills and other actions from China in coming days as the country’s armed forces “flex their muscles.”

Still, “we don’t believe we’re at the brink now, and there’s certainly no reason for anybody to be talking about being at the brink going forward,” Kirby said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

China’s official Xinhua News Agency announced the military actions Tuesday night, along with a map outlining six different areas around Taiwan. Arthur Zhin-Sheng Wang, a defense studies expert at Taiwan’s Central Police University, said three of the areas infringe on Taiwanese waters, meaning they are within 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) of shore.

Using live fire in a country’s territorial airspace or waters is risky, said Wang, adding that “according to international rules of engagement, this can possibly be seen as an act of war.”

Pelosi’s trip has heightened U.S.-China tensions more than visits by other members of Congress because of her high-level position as leader of the House of Representatives. She is the first speaker of the House to visit Taiwan in 25 years, since Newt Gingrich in 1997. However, other members of Congress have visited Taiwan in the past year.

Tsai, thanking Pelosi for her decades of support for Taiwan, presented the speaker with a civilian honor, the Order of the Propitious Clouds.

China’s response has been loud and has come on multiple fronts: diplomatic, economic and military.

Shortly after Pelosi landed Tuesday night, China announced live-fire drills that reportedly started that night, as well as the four-day exercises starting Thursday.

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force also flew a contingent of 21 war planes Tuesday night, including fighter jets, toward Taiwan. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng also summoned the U.S. ambassador in Beijing, Nicholas Burns, to convey the country’s protests the same night.

On Wednesday, China also banned some imports from Taiwan, including citrus fruit and fish.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV published images of PLA drills on Wednesday, although it was unclear where they were being conducted. On Wednesday night, China flew an additional 27 fighter jets toward Taiwan.

CCTV also said that a Taiwanese citizen was detained on suspicion of inciting separatism. Yang Chih-yuan, originally from the city of Taichung, was shown surrounded by police in a CCTV video. Yang had been a candidate for a legislative position in New Taipei City, according to local media.

Pelosi addressed Beijing’s threats Wednesday morning, saying she hopes it’s clear that while China has prevented Taiwan from attending certain international meetings, “that they understand they will not stand in the way of people coming to Taiwan as a show of friendship and of support.”

She noted that support for Taiwan is bipartisan in Congress and praised the island’s democracy. She stopped short of saying that the U.S would defend Taiwan militarily, emphasizing that Congress is “committed to the security of Taiwan, in order to have Taiwan be able to most effectively defend themselves.”

Her focus has always been the same, she said, going back to her 1991 visit to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, when she and other lawmakers unfurled a small banner supporting democracy two years after a bloody military crackdown on protesters at the square. That visit was also about human rights and what she called dangerous technology transfers to “rogue countries.”

Pelosi visited a human rights museum in Taipei that details the history of the island’s martial law era and met with some of Taiwan’s most prominent rights activists, including an exiled former Hong Kong bookseller who was detained by Chinese authorities, Lam Wing-kee.

Pelosi, who is leading the trip with five other members of Congress, also met with representatives from Taiwan’s legislature.

“Madam Speaker’s visit to Taiwan with the delegation, without fear, is the strongest defense of upholding human rights and consolidation of the values of democracy and freedom,” Tsai Chi-chang, vice president of Taiwan’s legislature, said in welcome.

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has sought to tone down the volume on the visit, insisting there’s no change in America’s longstanding “one-China policy,” which recognizes Beijing but allows informal relations and defense ties with Taipei.

Pelosi said her delegation has “heft,” including Gregory Meeks, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Raja Krishnamoorthi from the House Intelligence Committee. Reps. Andy Kim and Mark Takano are also in the delegation.

She also mentioned Rep. Suzan DelBene, whom Pelosi said was instrumental in the passage of a $280 billion bill aimed at boosting American manufacturing and research in semiconductor chips — an industry that Taiwan dominates and is vital for modern electronics.

Pelosi’s Asia tour also included stops in Singapore and Malaysia.

Governor Reynolds announces new statewide broadband map, requests public input

DES MOINES – Today, Governor Reynolds and the Department of Management Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) announced the release of a new broadband map of Iowa, reporting the conditions of broadband availability in accordance with federal grant guidelines at over 1 million locations throughout the state. The public can view the map here.

The new map provides a more detailed view than prior maps, identifying the broadband service available at homes and businesses across Iowa as reported by broadband providers. Locations with slower broadband speeds – defined by relevant federal guidelines to be slower than 100 upload/20 download – may be eligible for future grant funding opportunities issued by Governor Reynolds’ Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Program.

“We are making important progress to connect all Iowans to high-speed broadband, but many communities remain unserved,” said Gov. Reynolds. “Today, I’m asking all Iowans to visit the broadband map and let us know if the broadband service reported at their location is inaccurate. This feedback will help us to direct resources to areas with the greatest need for broadband investment in the future.”

The publication of the map commences a 30-day challenge process where the public, broadband providers, and communities throughout Iowa can submit information to the OCIO wherever they believe the map incorrectly reports broadband service data.

Instructions for challenging the map are available here, including videos, guides, and templates to assist members of the public, broadband providers, and communities who wish to submit a challenge. Challengers may also e-mail ociogrants@iowa.gov for assistance and questions.

City of Pella to Provide School Resource Officers to Pella Community School District

The Pella City Council met last night and held a public hearing regarding plans to expand the Pella Municipal Airport, which was approved. The council also passed a resolution to provide school resource officers to the Pella Community School District, with city administrator Mike Nardini explaining that the 28E agreement would entail the city providing school resource officers for 8 hours a day to the district. The agreement, which was approved unanimously, goes into effect on September 1 and automatically renews each year unless terminated by the city council. Costs of officer wages and benefits are to be split down the middle between the two entities.

The meeting also saw the city council have an extended discussion on the redevelopment of the Oskaloosa Street corridor, though no action was taken. The city of Pella will host its next regular council meeting on August 16.

McDonald IV Named to 2022 Bednarik Trophy Watch List

hawkeyesports.com

Iowa Hawkeyes senior linebacker Jack Campbell and senior defensive back Riley Moss, as well as Iowa State Cyclones senior defensive end Will McDonald IV, were all named to the 2022 Chuck Bednarik Trophy Watch List.

The Chuck Bednarik Trophy is presented annually by the Maxwell Football Club to the most outstanding defensive player in college football. Campbell and Moss of Iowa and McDonald IV of Iowa State have all received plenty of preseason honors so far, with all 3 being named to the Nagurski Award watch list as well as multiple preseason all-american teams.

Campbell was second in the Big Ten with 143 tackles last season, the fifth-most ever in a single season for Iowa. Moss ranks 2nd in Iowa program history with 239 career interception return yards and is one of three players in program history with 3 interceptions returned for touchdowns.

McDonald IV enters his senior year already holding the Iowa State career record for sacks with 29.0, and also has 9 forced fumbles and 34.5 tackles for loss in his career.

Mahaska Health Set to Host 11th Annual Run in the Sun

Mahaska Health is inviting everyone to join them for the 11th annual Run in the Sun 5k/2k.

The Mahaska Health Foundation 2022 Run in the Sun 5K/2K Walk helps make it possible to provide compassionate care and services to all individuals in need, regardless of financial situation. It will be held this Saturday, August 6, at Statesmen Community Stadium in Oskaloosa.

Check-in starts at 7am, and the 5k begins at 8:30am with the 2k walk beginning shortly thereafter. The awards ceremony and post-event celebration are scheduled to begin at 9:30am.

If you have any questions please contact Mahaska Health Donor Relations Coordinator, Sarah Huddleston, (641) 660-8419 or email to shuddleston@mahaskahealth.org.

Forecast calls for hot turning to hotter

BY 

Some 60 Iowa counties will be under a Heat Advisory this afternoon.

Meteorologist Alex Krull, at the National Weather Service, says it’ll be uncomfortably steamy, especially across western and central Iowa.  “Tuesday afternoon, we’re looking at actual air temperatures likely in the upper 90s, ranging anywhere between 96 and 99 degrees,” Krull says, “but the humidity, with the higher dew points, will result in the heat index values reaching anywhere between 105 and 107.”

We’re entering a prolonged heat wave which is expected to last all week, into the weekend — and beyond. “It’ll definitely make it dangerous to be outside, whether you’re doing any exercise activity or anything athletic,” Krull says. “Also, this is an important reminder to check in on our vulnerable populations as well, such as the elderly, young children or anyone who may be experiencing any medical issues with cardiovascular or respiratory health.”

The heat advisory runs from 1 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday and more advisories are possible throughout the week and month.
“For the next couple of weeks here, we are going to be in a pattern that’s going to favor multiple days of having above-normal temperatures for this time of year,” Krull says. “Typically in August, Iowa will see temperatures in the upper 80s, but right now, most of our long-term guidance is indicating that we could have several days where the actual air temperatures are reaching the low to mid 90s.”

The heat wave may last well into the Iowa State Fair, which runs August 11th to the 21st. The Climate Prediction Center’s August weather forecast for Iowa indicates the state could be in for above-normal temperatures and below-normal rainfall.

(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)

Biden: Killing of al-Qaida leader is long-sought ‘justice’

By MATTHEW LEE, NOMAAN MERCHANT and AAMER MADHANI

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden announced Monday that al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Kabul, an operation he said delivered justice and hopefully “one more measure of closure” to families of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

The president said in an evening address from the White House that U.S. intelligence officials tracked al-Zawahri to a home in downtown Kabul where he was hiding out with his family. The president approved the operation last week and it was carried out Sunday.

Al-Zawahri and the better-known Osama bin Laden plotted the 9/11 attacks that brought many ordinary Americans their first knowledge of al-Qaida. Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan on May 2, 2011, in operation carried out by U.S. Navy SEALs after a nearly decade-long hunt.

As for Al-Zawahri, Biden said, “He will never again, never again, allow Afghanistan to become a terrorist safe haven because he is gone and we’re going to make sure that nothing else happens.”

“This terrorist leader is no more,” he added.

The operation is a significant counterterrorism win for the Biden administration just 11 months after American troops left the country after a two-decade war.

The strike was carried out by the CIA, according to five people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Neither Biden nor the White House detailed the CIA’s involvement in the strike.

Biden, however, paid tribute to the U.S. intelligence community in his remarks, noting that “thanks to their extraordinary persistence and skill” the operation was a success.

Al-Zawahri’s death eliminates the figure who more than anyone shaped al-Qaida, first as bin Laden’s deputy since 1998, then as his successor. Together, he and bin Laden turned the jihadi movement’s guns to target the United States, carrying out the deadliest attack ever on American soil — the Sept. 11 suicide hijackings.

The house Al-Zawahri was in when he was killed was owned by a top aide to senior Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, according to a senior intelligence official. The official also added that a CIA ground team and aerial reconnaissance conducted after the drone strike confirmed al-Zawahri’s death.

A senior administration official who briefed reporters on the operation on condition of anonymity said “zero” U.S. personnel were in Kabul.

Over the 20-year war in Afghanistan, the U.S. targeted and splintered al-Qaida, sending leaders into hiding. But America’s exit from Afghanistan last September gave the extremist group the opportunity to rebuild.

U.S. military officials, including Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have said al-Qaida was trying to reconstitute in Afghanistan, where it faced limited threats from the now-ruling Taliban. Military leaders have warned that the group still aspired to attack the U.S.

After his killing, the White House underscored that al-Zawahri had continued to be a dangerous figure. The senior administration official said al-Zawahri had continued to “provide strategic direction,” including urging attacks on the U.S., while in hiding. He had also prioritized to members of the terror network that the United States remained al-Qaida’s “primary enemy,” the official said.

The 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon made bin Laden America’s Enemy No. 1. But he likely could never have carried it out without his deputy. Bin Laden provided al-Qaida with charisma and money, but al-Zawahri brought tactics and organizational skills needed to forge militants into a network of cells in countries around the world.

U.S. intelligence officials have been aware for years of a network helping al-Zawahri dodge U.S. intelligence officials hunting for him, but didn’t have a bead on his possible location until recent months.

Earlier this year, U.S. officials learned that the terror leader’s wife, daughter and her children had relocated to a safe house in Kabul, according to the senior administration official who briefed reporters.

Officials eventually learned al-Zawahri was also at the Kabul safe house.

In early April, White House deputy national security adviser Jon Finer and Biden’s homeland security adviser Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall were briefed on this developing intelligence. Soon the intelligence was carried up to national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

Sullivan brought the information to Biden as U.S. intelligence officials built “a pattern of life through multiple independent sources of information to inform the operation,” the official said.

Senior Taliban figures were aware of al-Zawahri’s presence in Kabul, according to the official, who added the Taliban government was given no forewarning of the operation.

Inside the Biden administration, only a small group of officials at key agencies, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris, were brought into the process. Through May and June, Biden was updated several times on the growing mound of intelligence that confirmed al-Zawahri was hiding out in the home. Over the last few weeks, Biden brought together several Cabinet officials and key national security officials to scrutinize the intelligence findings.

On July 1, Biden was briefed in the Situation Room about the planned operation, a briefing in which the president closely examined a scale model of the home Zawahri was hiding out in. He gave his final approval for the operation on Thursday. Al-Zawahri was on the balcony of his hideout on Sunday when two Hellfire missiles were launched from an unmanned drone, killing him.

Al-Zawahri’s family was in another part of the house when the operation was carried out, and no one else was believed to have been killed in the operation, the official said.

“We make it clear again tonight: That no matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, if you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out,” Biden said.

Al-Zawahri was hardly a household name like bin Laden, but he played an enormous role in the terror group’s operations.

The two terror leaders’ bond was forged in the late 1980s, when al-Zawahri reportedly treated the Saudi millionaire bin Laden in the caves of Afghanistan as Soviet bombardment shook the mountains around them.

Al-Zawahri, on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist list, had a $25 million bounty on his head for any information that could be used to kill or capture him.

Al-Zawhiri and bin Laden plotted the 9/11 attacks that brought many ordinary Americans their first knowledge of al-Qaida.

Photos from the time often showed the glasses-wearing, mild-looking Egyptian doctor sitting by the side of bin Laden. Al-Zawahiri had merged his group of Egyptian militants with bin Laden’s al-Qaida in the 1990s.

“The strong contingent of Egyptians applied organizational know-how, financial expertise, and military experience to wage a violent jihad against leaders whom the fighters considered to be un-Islamic and their patrons, especially the United States,” Steven A. Cook wrote for the Council on Foreign Relations last year.

When the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan demolished al-Qaida’s safe haven and scattered, killed and captured its members, al-Zawahri ensured al-Qaida’s survival. He rebuilt its leadership in the Afghan-Pakistan border region and installed allies as lieutenants in key positions.

He also reshaped the organization from a centralized planner of terror attacks into the head of a franchise chain. He led the assembling of a network of autonomous branches around the region, including in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, North Africa, Somalia, Yemen and Asia. Over the next decade, al-Qaida inspired or had a direct hand in attacks in all those areas as well as Europe, Pakistan and Turkey, including the 2004 train bombings in Madrid and the 2005 transit bombings in London.

More recently, the al-Qaida affiliate in Yemen proved itself capable of plotting attacks against U.S. soil with an attempted 2009 bombing of an American passenger jet and an attempted package bomb the following year.

But even before bin Laden’s death, al-Zawahri was struggling to maintain al-Qaida’s relevance in a changing Middle East.

He tried with little success to coopt the wave of uprisings that spread across the Arab world starting in 2011, urging Islamic hard-liners to take over in the nations where leaders had fallen. But while Islamists gained prominence in many places, they have stark ideological differences with al-Qaida and reject its agenda and leadership.

Nevertheless, al-Zawahri tried to pose as the Arab Spring’s leader. America “is facing an Islamic nation that is in revolt, having risen from its lethargy to a renaissance of jihad,” he said in a video eulogy to bin Laden, wearing a white robe and turban with an assault rifle leaning on a wall behind him.

Al-Zawahri was also a more divisive figure than his predecessor. Many militants described the soft-spoken bin Laden in adoring and almost spiritual terms.

In contrast, al-Zawahri was notoriously prickly and pedantic. He picked ideological fights with critics within the jihadi camp, wagging his finger scoldingly in his videos. Even some key figures in al-Qaida’s central leadership were put off, calling him overly controlling, secretive and divisive.

Some militants whose association with bin Laden predated al-Zawahri’s always saw him as an arrogant intruder.

“I have never taken orders from al-Zawahri,” Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, one of the network’s top figures in East Africa until his 2011 death, sneered in a memoir posted on line in 2009. “We don’t take orders from anyone but our historical leadership.”

There had been rumors of al-Zawahri’s death on and off for several years. But a video surfaced in April of the al-Qaida leader praising a Indian Muslim woman who had defied a ban on wearing a hijab, or headscarf. That footage was the first proof in months that he was still alive.

A statement from Afghanistan’s Taliban government confirmed the airstrike, but did not mention al-Zawahri or any other casualties.

It said the Taliban “strongly condemns this attack and calls it a clear violation of international principles and the Doha Agreement,” the 2020 U.S. pact with the Taliban that led to the withdrawal of American forces.

“Such actions are a repetition of the failed experiences of the past 20 years and are against the interests of the United States of America, Afghanistan, and the region,” the statement said.

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Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor, Ellen Knickmeyer, Zeke Miller, James LaPorta, Michael Balsamo and Darlene Superville in Washington; Rahim Faiez in Islamabad; and Lee Keath in Cairo contributed reporting.

1st ship carrying Ukrainian grain leaves the port of Odesa

By SUSIE BLANN and SUZAN FRASER

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain set out from the port of Odesa on Monday under a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey that is expected to release large stores of Ukrainian crops to foreign markets and ease a growing food crisis.

The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni left Odesa carrying over 26,000 tons of corn destined for Lebanon.

“The first grain ship since Russian aggression has left port,” said Ukraine’s Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov on Twitter, posting a video of the long vessel sounding its horn as its slowly headed out to sea.

Posting separately on Facebook, Kubrakov said Ukraine is the fourth-largest corn exporter in the world, “so the possibility of exporting it via ports is a colossal success in ensuring global food security.”

“Today Ukraine, together with partners, takes another step to prevent world hunger,” he added.

In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov hailed the ship’s departure as “very positive,” saying it would help test the “efficiency of the mechanisms that were agreed during the talks in Istanbul.”

Turkey’s defense minister, Hulusi Akar, said the Razoni was expected to dock Tuesday afternoon in Istanbul at the entrance of the Bosporus, where joint teams of Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and U.N. officials would board it for inspections.

In an interview with Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency, Akar warned that the global food crisis threatened to trigger “a serious wave of migration from Africa to Europe and to Turkey.”

The corn is destined for Lebanon, a Middle East nation in the grips of what the World Bank has described as one of the world’s worst financial crises in more than 150 years. A 2020 explosion at its main port in Beirut shattered its capital city and destroyed grain silos there, a part of which collapsed following a weekslong fire just Sunday.

Lebanon mostly imports wheat from Ukraine but also buys its corn to make cooking oil and to produce animal feed.

The Turkish defense ministry said other ships would also depart Ukraine’s ports through the safe corridors in line with deals signed in Istanbul on July 22, but did not provide further details.

Russia and Ukraine signed separate agreements with Turkey and the U.N. clearing the way for Ukraine — one of the world’s key breadbaskets — to export 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural goods that have been stuck in Black Sea ports because of Russia’s invasion.

The deals also allow Russia to exports grain and fertilizers.

Turkey’s defense minister praised a joint coordination center staffed by Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and U.N. officials as a venue where opposing sides can engage with each other.

“The problems they have are obvious, there is a war. But it is the only place where the two sides are able to come together,” Akar said. “Despite the ups and downs, there is a good environment for dialogue.”

Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry said that 16 more ships, all blocked since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, were waiting their turn in the ports of Odesa.

Kubrakov said the shipments would also help Ukraine’s war-shattered economy.

“Unlocking ports will provide at least $1 billion in foreign exchange revenue to the economy and an opportunity for the agricultural sector to plan for next year,” Kubrakov said.

The United Nations welcomed the development, saying in a statement that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hopes the shipments will “bring much-needed stability and relief to global food security especially in the most fragile humanitarian contexts.”

After more than five months of war, the horn of the cargo ship sounding as it set out to sea delighted Olena Vitalievna, a city resident.

“Finally, life begins to move forward and there are some changes in a positive direction,” she said. “In general, the port should live its own life because Odesa is a port city. We live here, we want everything to work for us, everything to bustle.”

Yet the resumption of the grain shipments came as fighting raged elsewhere in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s presidential office said that at least three civilians were killed and another 16 wounded by Russian shelling in the Donetsk region over the past 24 hours.

Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko repeated a call for all residents to evacuate, emphasizing the need to evacuate about 52,000 children still left in the region.

In Kharkiv, two people were wounded by a Russian strike in the morning, one who was struck while waiting for a bus and the other when a Russian shell exploded near an apartment building.

The southern city of Mykolaiv also faced repeated shelling that ruined a building of a hospital unit and damaged ambulances, according to Gov. Vitaliy Kim. Three civilians were wounded in the Russian shelling elsewhere in the city, he said.

Soon after the grain shipment deal was signed on July 22, a Russian missile targeted Odesa. Analysts warned that the continuing fighting could threaten the grain deal.

“The danger remains: The Odesa region has faced constant shelling and only regular supplies could prove the viability of the agreements signed,” said Volodymyr Sidenko, an expert with the Kyiv-based Razumkov Center think-tank.

“The departure of the first vessel doesn’t solve the food crisis, it’s just the first step that could also be the last if Russia decides to continue attacks in the south.”

___

Fraser reported from Ankara, Turkey. Jon Gambrell in Dubai contributed.

Iowa’s delegation works to improve communication systems for severe weather

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IOWA CAPITAL DISPATCH – All four of Iowa’s U.S. representatives supported bipartisan legislation this week to modernize the National Weather Service’s communication networks.

The weather bill passed the House Wednesday with bipartisan support. The communication network known as the National Weather Service’s Chat provides information to the general public, broadcast stations and emergency managers regarding severe weather events.

“In March, South Central Iowa saw the deadliest storm to hit our state in more than a decade,” Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks said in an email response to Iowa Capital Dispatch. “As these disasters happen, we must ensure the National Weather Service is properly equipped to support communities across the United States to prepare for dangerous storms which are about to occur. This bill will give the National Weather Service the ability to update their systems to help keep our communities safe.”

In March, there was a computer glitch in the National Weather Services warning system during a tornado in Winterset, Iowa. Rep. Cindy Axne said this highlighted the need for multiple, modern communication systems during severe weather. 

“This legislation has the potential to save lives and will bring us one step closer to preventing communication issues and ensuring Iowans have the information they need to protect themselves,” Axne said. “I appreciated working with Rep. (Randy) Feenstra and the rest of the Iowa delegation to support this common-sense and important legislation.”

Feenstra originally introduced the National Weather Service Communications Improvement Act, which unanimously passed the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.

“When I was elected to Congress, I promised that I would get things done for our families, farmers, small businesses, and thriving communities in Iowa,” Feenstra said. “My two bills that passed the House represent my commitment to finding solutions to the problems facing our state and nation.”

Feenstra also introduced a bill to create new qualification requirements for chief scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Chief scientists will have to enforce higher scientific integrity standards for the administration. The legislation also would require the United States president to accept recommendations from scientific organizations during the chief scientist selection process.

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