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Democrats eye Senate seat, West Virginia's power problems and the future for Afghan women: Wednesday's top stories

Plus a dispute over fish in the English Channel and a stretch for desk-bound home workers.
Then-Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon speaks during a news conference on May 13, 2016, at the Capitol in Jefferson City, Mo.
Then-Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon speaks during a news conference on May 13, 2016, at the Capitol in Jefferson City, Mo.Jeff Roberson / AP file

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Democrats see an opportunity in a Trump-voting state, why West Virginians are still suffering power outages, and a look at the prospects for women and girls in Afghanistan as the U.S. withdraws.

Here's what we're watching this Thursday morning.


Missouri Democrats see opportunity for Senate seat — search for the right candidate goes on

Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri speaks to the media on Aug. 15, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri.Scott Olson / Getty Images file

Trump won Missouri by more than 15 percentage points last year and Democrats have won only one statewide race there in eight years. Nevertheless, the makings of a Democratic comeback are there.

Republican Sen. Roy Blunt is retiring. A top candidate to win the GOP nomination for his seat next year is former Gov. Eric Greitens, who was chased from office by accusations of sexual misconduct and campaign finance violations

And the state’s other Republican senator, Josh Hawley, saw his popularity dip after his fist-raising devotion to former President Donald Trump became an enduring image from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

All Democrats need is someone they are confident can make the most of the opportunity.

"The Republican Party has gone too far," said Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Michael Butler. "There are enough Democrats, and there's enough disdain for Republican extremism in our state that we can be successful," Butler added.

But finding the right candidate, and then persuading enough Missouri voters to ditch the GOP, may prove a challenge.


Thursday's top stories

West Virginia utility companies have spent millions to mitigate power outages. Why do they keep happening?

Power outages are a longstanding issue in West Virginia, where trees weighed down by ice frequently damage electricity lines. Utilities in the state have spent nearly $1 billion since 2012 to reduce outages but they have grown longer and more frequent.

By Deon J. Hampton | Read more


As U.S. withdraws, the future of Afghan women and girls hangs in the balance

Nearly twenty years since the U.S. invaded and toppled the Taliban regime, women are bracing themselves to defend the gains they have made in public and private life.

By Richard Engel and Saphora Smith | Read more


Gunboats and blockade threats as Britain, France clash over fishing

The French Navy deployed two boats near the British Channel island of Jersey on Thursday, as a long-simmering dispute between France and Britain over post-Brexit fishing rights escalated.

By Petra Cahill | Read more


Opinion: Texas anti-abortion legislation paves way for every right-to-lifer to sue abortion doctors

After Texas exploited the Covid-19 crisis last spring to try to close abortion clinics, it was hard to imagine its stance could get more extreme. But the Texas Legislature is poised to do just that.

By Marina Garrett | Read more


Better: Sitting at a desk all day? The 1 stretch you need to try

If you spend the day hunched over a computer, the high lunge will help increase flexibility and release tension.

By Hillary Wright | Read more


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Also in the news ...


SHOPPING

Peloton’s recall of its Tread line might leave you shopping for an alternative: We rounded up highly rated treadmills from Shopping reader favorite brands.


One fun thing

Irish President Michael D. Higgins had to contend with one of his dogs stealing the limelight this week.

Misneach, a Bernese mountain dog, was trying to get its owner's attention, despite Higgins' attempts to read out a tribute to an actor who had died.

See the video here.


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Thanks, Patrick Smith