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Obama Wants Biden To Pull Out Of US Presidential Race: Report

WASHINGTON, July 18: Former US president Barack Obama has told allies that Joe Biden needs to reconsider his reelection bid, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

Obama believes that Biden's path to victory has diminished and that the 81-year-old should "seriously consider the viability of his candidacy," the newspaper said, citing people briefed on his thinking.

It said there was no immediate comment from Obama, who was in office while Biden was vice president from 2009 to 2017 and who remains hugely influential in the Democratic party.

Obama would be the most heavyweight Democrat so far to join a growing chorus in the party calling for Biden to drop out, following a disastrous debate performance against Donald Trump.

Biden, who is isolating with Covid at his beach house, has rejected concerns about his age and fitness and insisted that he is staying in the race for the White House.

Pressure is mounting, though, with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries also both reportedly meeting with Biden in recent days to warn that his candidacy threatens his party's prospects in November's election.

‘She Could Be President’: Joe Biden Hints Kamala Harris Best Positioned To Replace Him

LAS VEGAS, July 17: US President Joe Biden on Tuesday said that Vice President Kamala Harris “could be president of the United States” while addressing the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) convention.

“Folks, I know what a Black job is — it’s the vice president of the United States,” said Biden, referring to his running mate Kamala Harris, the first Black and female VP.

“She’s not only a great vice president, she could be president of the United States,” Biden, 81, said of Harris, 59, who is best placed to replace him if the US President decides to retire.

The octogenarian chief executive returned to the campaign trail with a speech to crucial Black voters at the NAACP advocacy group in Las Vegas.

He opened his speech by saying he was “grateful” that Trump was safe after the shooting, and said he wanted to renew efforts to ban the kind of semi-automatic rifle that shooter Thomas Matthew Crooks used.

For the NAACP crowd, Biden seized on Trump recently referencing “Black jobs,” drawing big applause by joking, “I love the phrase.”

He also referenced Barack Obama as the nation’s first Black president, and his own appointment to the Supreme Court of its first Black and female justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Joe Biden wants to demonstrate his administration’s support for Black voters, a cornerstone of the Democratic coalition and his personal political base. He is also reaching out to the Democrat Hispanic Americans as he plans to address UnidosUS, a key Hispanic advocacy group, on Wednesday.

The 81-year-old Biden has dismissed numerous calls from within his party to step down, assuring the US public that he is the best Democrat to defeat Trump.

At the NAACP meeting in Las Vegas, there was widespread support for Biden staying on.

“I found President Biden very full of energy,” said Donna Jackson-Houston, an NAACP member from California.

She admitted that “I and many others had doubts” about Biden’s age and gaffes after the debate, but “he did a great job today convincing me.”

Tony Fields from New Jersey said Biden’s speech was “very insightful,” adding that the bad debate was “just a moment that the President had that evening.”

Trump Nominated Republican Nominee, Picks Old Critic As Running Mate

MILWAUKEE, July 16: Donald Trump won formal nomination Monday as the Republican presidential candidate and picked a right-wing loyalist for running mate, kicking off a triumphalist party convention in the wake of last weekend's failed assassination attempt.

Trump announced 39-year-old Ohio Senator J.D. Vance as his vice presidential pick, rewarding a one-time harsh critic who became one of his most reliable -- and uncompromising -- supporters in Congress.

Trump, 78, is guaranteed a hero's welcome at the convention in Milwaukee, where delegates delivered their formal nomination two days after the scandal-plagued former president survived an assassination attempt at a rally.

"As Vice President, J.D. will continue to fight for our Constitution, stand with our Troops, and will do everything he can to help me MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN," Trump posted on Truth Social.

While Trump is increasingly confident of a shock return to the White House -- despite multiple legal problems and two impeachments during his first term -- President Joe Biden is reeling from weak polls and Democratic concerns over his health.

In the delegates count in Milwaukee, Eric Trump put his father over the threshold on behalf of the Florida delegation, calling him "the greatest president that ever lived."

Vance had been widely expected as Trump's pick. He will bolster the ticket on the right wing, but with less chance of expanding appeal to more moderate voters and women.

The standard-bearer for a new kind of populism that has come to the fore under Trump, Vance is also one of the least experienced VP picks in modern history.

But he embraces the ex-president's isolationist, anti-immigration America First movement. Vance is further to the right than his new boss on many issues including abortion, where he embraces calls for federal legislation.

He initially made his name with the 2016 memoir "Hillbilly Elegy," a best-selling account of his Appalachian family and modest Rust Belt upbringing, which gave a voice to rural, working-class resentment in left-behind America.

Turning his back on previous opposition to Trump, whom he once said might be "America's Hitler," Vance reinvented himself and ultimately won the ex-president's key endorsement in the 2022 Ohio Senate race, launching his meteoric rise.

Trump Shooting Suspect Thomas Matthew Crooks Was Lonely And Bullied, Rejected From School Rifle Team: Reports

PITTSBURG, July 15: Thomas Matthew Crooks was quiet, bullied and lonely in school, but an investigation so far into the young man who was identified as the shooter in the assassination attempt on former US president Donald Trump has revealed frustratingly little about his motive.

Former high school classmates described the 20-year-old as a terrible shot, ironically. Crooks, who fired multiple shots at Trump during the Butler rally in Pennsylvania, was reportedly rejected from his school’s rifle team. He was all set to cast his vote for the first time in the November 5 presidential elections. But, it was not to be.

On July 13, the US Secret Service shot and killed him as he made an attempt on Trump’s life. While the Republican presidential candidate survived, the shooting led to the death of a spectator and critically injured two others.

Even though his family members, classmates, teachers and work colleagues did not firmly talk about his leanings, it looks like there were some potential signs in him of an interest in politics. It seems the registered Republican had donated, as a 17-year-old, a small amount to the Democratic Party and put his name down as a voter only a week after he turned 18.

Since Crooks was identified as the shooter by the FBI, there has been much debate over his political affiliations and motive, further inflaming an already bitter political divide in the US. But, the information about him so far – gathered from home, neighbourhood, school and workplace – pieces a picture of a man whose ideology was not instantly clear.

A social media platform, Discord, said an account Crooks had with them was “rarely utilised” and there is no evidence that it was used to plan this incident, promote violence, or discuss his political views. His father told CNN that he was trying to establish “what the hell is going on” before speaking about his son.

On Sunday (July 14), the FBI said his social media profile does not contain threatening language, nor have they found any history of mental health issues. But, the law enforcement agency pointed out what is unique about him – when compared to other recent shooters who opened fire at schools, churches, malls and parades, is that he came within inches of killing a presidential candidate.

Early details, however, show a young Crooks working as a nursing home aide near his hometown in Pennsylvania, where he graduated from high school in 2022 with a reputation as a bright but quiet classmate. His high school counsellor described him as “respectful” and said he never knew him to be political.

Public records of the resident of Bethel Park – at least an hour away from where the shooting took place – show his father is a registered Republican and his mother a registered Democrat. The predominantly white suburb, which is wealthier than the surrounding Pittsburgh metro area, is situated in the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania and is politically mixed as per county election records. President Joe Biden won the precinct that includes the Crooks’ house with just 52 per cent of the vote.

“We are shocked and saddened to learn of his involvement as Thomas Matthew Crooks performed his job without concern and his background check was clean,” said Marcie Grimm, administrator of the Bethel Park Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where Crooks worked. One of his work colleagues said in fact, he was rather “caring” and did not appear as “radical” or “politically motivated”.

Crooks graduated from school two years ago, where he showed no particular interest in politics as per one classmate who asked not to be identified. His interests centred on building computers and playing games, the classmate said in an interview to news agency Reuters.

“He was super smart. That’s what really kind of threw me off was, this was, like, a really, really smart kid, like he excelled,” the classmate was quoted as saying. “Nothing crazy ever came up in any conversation.”

Jim Knapp, who retired from his job as the school counsellor at Bethel Park High School in 2022, told Reuters that Crooks had always been “quiet as a churchmouse”, “respectful” and kept to himself, although he did have some friends.

Knapp said he never knew Crooks to be political in any way, even as other kids would sometimes wear Trump or Biden attire. He added that he could not recall him ever being disciplined in school.

“Anybody could snap, anybody could have issues,” he said. “Something triggered that young man and drove him to drive up to Butler yesterday and do what he did.”

Residents near Crooks’ home described feeling shocked and unsettled that an assassination bid has been linked to a person from the sedate city of 33,000 people. “Bethel Park is a pretty blue-collar type of area, and to think that somebody was that close is a little insane,” said Wes Morgan, a 42-year-old who works at an investment management company and bikes with his children on the same street as the Crooks’ residence.

According to a report published by The New York Post, Crooks was a “comically bad shot”. His former classmates claimed that he tried out for the rifle team at Bethel Park High School, but was rejected.

They said the school’s range was 50 feet long and 21 feet wide. The Post said he once shot from the seventh lane, which was closest to the right wall and missed so he hit the left wall. “He tried out… and was such a comically bad shot he was unable to make the team and left after the first day,” a classmate was quoted as saying. “Our old coach was a stickler, he trained Navy marksmen, so he knew people. He knew when someone’s not the greatest person.”

Like during his school life, where he often came across to be lonely, in his defining moment before his death, Crooks was working alone as per the FBI.

Classmates described him as a quiet student. “He was quiet but he was just bullied. He was bullied so much,” said Jason Kohler, who attended the same high school as Crooks, adding that he seemed “socially reserved”. But, another classmate did not recall hearing him discuss politics or Trump.

Kohler further said Crooks had been made fun of for the way he dressed, noting that he would sometimes wear hunting outfits.

He told CNN that Crooks had “no facial expression” when he walked through the school hallways. “He wasn’t, like, with the clique, so he always had, I guess, a target on his back,” he said.

Trump shot at rally in assassination attempt; spectator killed; shooter dead

PITTSBURGH, July 14: Former President Donald Trump was shot in the ear after a gunman perched on the roof of a nearby building opened fire at a rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, on Saturday -- a harrowing incident that the FBI called an assassination attempt.

The shooting, which set the country on edge on the eve of the Republican National Convention, left one spectator dead, two others critically injured, and sparked chaos at the event.

As the former president spoke, shots crackled and Trump, hand to his ear, dropped to the ground where he was surrounded by agents before behind hustled off the stage into a waiting car amid the screams and confusion of the crowd.

The shooting, which is being investigated by the FBI overseen by the Justice Department's National Security Division, as well as the U.S. attorney's office in Pittsburgh, comes amid a heightened threat environment.

The Secret Service, in a statement, said that a shooter "fired multiple shots toward the stage from an elevated position outside of the rally venue" after which agents "neutralized the shooter, who is now deceased."

The shooter fired as many as eight rounds from an AR-style rifle while perched on a rooftop adjacent to the venue and was 200-300 yards away at the time of the shooting, law enforcement sources told ABC News.

It was "surprising" that the suspected gunman was able to get off as many shots as he allegedly did, law enforcement said, adding that the gunman was a "very determined attacker."

One spectator was killed and two others critically injured, the Secret Service said in a statement. All were adult men, Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said during a press conference. The shots fired were "scattered" and the injured and dead had been spread through the crowd, he said.

The FBI early on Sunday identified the suspected gunman as Thomas Matthew Crooks, 20, of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania. The gun he allegedly used was legally purchased by his father, according to multiple law enforcement sources. A source said the early indication was that the shooter was a lone wolf, but the situation was fluid.

FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Kevin Rojek earlier had said the agency was trying to assess the motive for the shooting and to confirm the gunman's identity. "It's a matter of doing biometric confirmations, so there was no identification on the individual for example so we're looking at photographs right now and we're trying to run his DNA and get biometric confirmation."

There appeared to be blood on Trump's right ear as he was being taken off stage, and he could be seen mouthing "fight" and pumping his fist.

Bivens described a "chaotic scene" where law enforcement acted "heroically." Bivens said officials were following up on reports about suspicious occurrences that they received prior to the shooting.

A spokesperson for Trump said in a statement, "President Trump thanks law enforcement and first responders for their quick action during this heinous act. He is fine and is being checked out at a local medical facility."

Later in the evening, he was released and left the Butler area under Secret Service protection, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro wrote on X.

In a statement on Truth Social posted hours after the shooting, Trump said he "was shot with a bullet that pierced the upper part of my right ear."

"I knew immediately that something was wrong in that I heard a whizzing sound, shots, and immediately felt the bullet ripping through the skin. Much bleeding took place, so I realized then what was happening," he wrote in the post, which expressed condolences to the family of the rallygoer who was killed.

"It is incredible that such an act can take place in our Country," he added. Trump's campaign says he still plans to attend the RNC.

‘Ukraine’s future is in Nato, path to membership irreversible’

WASHINGTON, July 11: The US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) has declared that Ukraine’s path to membership of the Trans-Atlantic military alliance is “irreversible”, and termed Russia as the “the most significant and direct threat” to the security of the bloc’s member-states.

In the Washington Declaration Summit, issued during Nato’s milestone 75th anniversary meeting in the US capital on Wednesday, Nato members also patted themselves on the back for undertaking the “biggest reinforcement of our collective defence in a generation”, strengthening the alliance’s “deterrence and defence posture” with a mix of “nuclear, conventional, and missile defence capabilities, complemented by space and cyber capabilities”, and spending more on defence.

The declaration also saw a commitment to strengthen the defence industry across Europe and North America, and a warning that rising hybrid threats could escalate to a point that invited collective defence arrangements.

But held in the shadow of Donald Trump’s political rise in US, and Russia’s gains in Ukraine, Nato’s key goal appeared to be aimed at insuring the alliance and its commitment to Ukrainian security against internal political and external strategic shocks.

While saying that a “strong, independent, and democratic Ukraine” was vital for the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic area, the alliance categorically said that it fully supported Ukraine’s “right to choose its own security arrangements and decide its own future, free from outside interference”.

Nato then went on to address the contentious issue of Kyiv’s participation in the bloc. While Ukraine has wanted quick membership, Russia has made it clear this remains a redline and has offered Ukraine’s possible entry into Nato as a stated reason for its aggression in the first place.

The US has been cautious; while supporting Ukraine, it has aimed to avoid any escalation with Russia in a manner that involves Nato. The issue has got more challenging as Trump has opposed Ukraine’s entry in Nato and promised a peace deal with Russia before he takes office, a move that has prompted European allies to “Trump-proof” US support for both Ukraine and the alliance.

The declaration saw these competing impulses at play, with the Joe Biden administration and other Nato members doubling down on their commitment to Ukraine, but leaving enough ambiguity by not offering a timeline for Ukraine’s entry.

The declaration said, “Ukraine’s future is in Nato. Ukraine has become increasingly interoperable and politically integrated with the Alliance. We welcome the concrete progress Ukraine has made since the Vilnius Summit on its required democratic, economic, and security reforms. As Ukraine continues this vital work, we will continue to support it on its irreversible path to full Euro-Atlantic integration, including Nato membership.”

It added that once conditions were met, allies would be in a position to “extend an invitation” to Ukraine to join. “The Summit decisions by Nato and the Nato-Ukraine Council, combined with Allies’ ongoing work, constitute a bridge to Ukraine’s membership in Nato.”

But in other respects, Nato was more specific in its support. It welcomed announcements by members to offer air defence systems to Ukraine. It announced the establishment of Nato Security Assistance and Training for Ukraine (NSATU) to coordinate the provision of military equipment and training. This, the declaration said, “will support the transformation of Ukraine’s defence and security forces, enabling its further integration with Nato”.

It also promised to take forward the establishment of a Nato-Ukraine joint analysis, training and education centre to increase Ukraine’s interoperability with Ukraine.

The declaration also announced a pledge of long term assistance for Ukraine that promises “a minimum baseline funding of €40 billion within the next year”. This commitment, Nato has said, extends to purchase of military equipment for Ukraine, in-kind support, costs related to maintenance, logistics and transportation, training, investment in Ukraine’s defence industry, with Nato members promising proportional contribution.

On Russia, Nato held Russia as solely responsible for the war in Ukraine. It said there could be no impunity for what the bloc termed as Russian “war crimes”. It saw Russia as posing an “all-domain threat” that will continue in the long term as Moscow aims to “fundamentally reconfigure the Euro-Atlantic architecture” but also said that Nato did not seek a “confrontation”and was willing to maintain channels of communication with Russia.

The declaration also condemned Russia’s “irresponsible nuclear rhetoric and coercive nuclear signalling”, and its “hybrid actions” including “malicious cyber activities, electronic interference and disinformation campaigns”. And Nato urged all countries not to provide “any kind of assistance to Russia’s aggression”.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan celebrated the achievements of the summit and claimed that Nato had displayed unity and purpose, and that it had provided “concrete commitments” to Ukraine and a “bridge to Nato”.

Biden announces $225 million weapons package for Ukraine, including Patriot system

WASHINGTON, July 11: President Joe Biden announced a new $225 million aid package for Ukraine on Thursday, including a Patriot missile system to bolster its air defenses against a deadly onslaught of Russian airstrikes.

Biden made the announcement during a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who called the announcement “strong news” but pressed that for the immediate future, what the Ukrainians also need is US permission to fire the long-range missiles it has provided at targets deeper inside Russia.

The Patriot air defense system, the second the US has provided to Ukraine, is one of several Biden announced this week at the NATO summit and is part of a swell of pledges to get weapons to Ukraine to help it fend off Russian attacks, including one this week that hit a children’s hospital in Kyiv.

The $225 million package also includes Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, and more 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds, among other munitions.

Zelenskyy late last month pleaded for additional US-made Patriot systems, arguing that they will help his forces fight the close to 3,000 bombs that he said Russia launches into the country every month.

On Tuesday, through a joint statement the US, Germany and Romania said they would provide Ukraine with Patriot batteries, while the Netherlands and others will provide Patriot components to make up one more battery and Italy will provide a SAMP-T air defense system.

Other allies, including Canada, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom, will provide a number of other systems that will help Ukraine expand its coverage. Those systems include NASAMS, HAWKs, IRIS T-SLM, IRIS T-SLS and Gepards. And other nations have agreed to provide munitions for those systems.

The additional US Patriot system will be paid for through presidential drawdown authority, which allows the military to pull the system directly from its stocks and quickly get it to Ukraine.

In addition, last week the US pledged $150 million in weapons to be pulled directly from its stocks, including air defense interceptors, artillery and other fires, and anti-tank weapons. It also pledged $2.2 billion in Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funds, a mechanism used to put longer-term weapons systems on order, including Patriot missiles and NASAM air defense systems.

'Bet On Russia As Long-Term, Reliable Partner Not A Good One': US Official To India

WASHINGTON, July 11: Amid concerns over India's ties with Russia, a top US official on Thursday cautioned New Delhi that a "bet on Russia as a long-term, reliable partner is not a good bet" and Moscow would side with Beijing over New Delhi in case of a conflict between the two Asian giants.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan made the remarks while replying to a question on MSNBC about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit to Moscow where he held extensive talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"We've made clear to every country in the world including India that a bet on Russia as a long-term, reliable partner is not a good bet," said Mr Sullivan, who was in India last month for a meeting with his counterpart Ajit Doval.

The top American official had also met Prime Minister Modi during his visit.

"Russia is becoming closer to China. In fact, it's becoming the junior partner to China. And in that way, they would side with China over India any day of the week. And … Prime Minister Modi, of course, has profound concerns about the potential for Chinese aggression against India. Which we have seen over recent years," Mr Sullivan said.

The NSA, however, acknowledged that countries like India have a historic relationship with Russia and it's not going to change dramatically overnight.

"This is playing the long game. It (US) is making investments in democratic partners and allies around the world including countries like India and we think that that will pay off as we go forward," he added.

His remarks came a day after spokespersons of the Pentagon, the White House and the State Department reacted separately to questions on India's relationship with Russia and Modi's visit to Moscow.

US resumes sending shipments of 500-pound bombs to Israel

WASHINGTON, July 11: The United States has agreed to resume shipping 500-pound bombs to Israel while continuing to hold back supplies of powerful 2,000-pound bombs over concerns that Israeli forces will use the weapons in densely populated areas of Gaza, a US official said.

The US in May paused one shipment of 2,000-pound (900kg) and 500-pound (230kg) bombs due to concern over the impact the weapons could have if used by Israel during its ground invasion of the southern city of Rafah, where more than one million Palestinian civilians had sought shelter.

“We’ve been clear that our concern has been on the end-use of the 2,000-pound bombs, particularly for Israel’s Rafah campaign which they have announced they are concluding,” a US official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity, on Wednesday.

On detonation, a 500-pound bomb can severely harm or kill everything or anyone within a 20-metre (65-foot) blast radius.

A 2,000-pound bomb has a destruction radius of 35 metres (115 feet), according to the Project on Defense Alternatives (PDA), which conducts defence policy research and analysis.

The US official said the consignment of 500-pound bombs was in the same shipment as the 2,000-pound bombs, which had led to the stalled transfer of the smaller bombs to Israel.

“Our main concern had been and remains the potential use of 2,000-pound bombs in Rafah and elsewhere in Gaza,” the official said.

“Because our concern was not about the 500-pound bombs, those are moving forward as part of the usual process,” the official added.

The US has notified Israel that it is releasing the 500-pound bombs but maintaining a hold on the larger ones, a person familiar with the matter said.

Reporting from the NATO summit in Washington DC, Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna said the move will “likely ramp up criticism of the Biden administration for its ongoing support for Israel in its war on Gaza”.

US Says India Has Ability To Urge Putin To End War In Ukraine

WASHINGTON, July 10: India's relationship with Russia gives it an ability to urge President Vladimir Putin to end its war with Ukraine, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday.

Jean-Pierre made the remarks after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Putin that the death of innocent children was painful and terrifying, a day after a lethal strike on a children's hospital in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

Biden Says 'Firmly Committed' To Staying In Presidential Race

WASHINGTON, July 8: Joe Biden urged Democratic lawmakers Monday to either back his reelection campaign or challenge him at the party convention next month as the US president's reelection bid entered a critical week.

The 81-year-old doubled down on his defiance of calls to step aside, after a disastrous debate against Republican rival Donald Trump last month turbocharged fears that he is too old to serve a second term.

Biden will be under extra scrutiny this week as he hosts a summit of NATO leaders in Washington, with many allies seeking reassurance amid polls forecasting that the isolationist Trump will win in November.

Biden called in to MSNBC's "Morning Joe" television program to say that he was "confident" the "average voter out there still wanted Joe Biden."

Sounding angry in the telephone interview, Biden said he was "getting so frustrated by the elites... in the party."

"Any of these guys that don't think I should run -- run against me. announce for president, challenge me at the convention," he added.

In a blitz of action to start the week, Biden also penned a lengthy letter to Democratic Party lawmakers that saying "I decline" to stand down.

"I am firmly committed to staying in the race," Biden wrote.

"The question of how to move forward has been well-aired for over a week now. And it's time for it to end."

US Sees 'significant Opening' In Israel-Hamas Hostage Talks: Official

WASHINGTON, July 4: The United States believes Israel and Hamas have a "pretty significant opening" to reach an agreement on a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of hostages held there, a senior US official said Thursday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Palestinian operative group's latest response "moves the process forward and may provide the basis for closing the deal," while stressing it does not mean an agreement was likely in the coming days, and that "significant work" remained on implementation steps.

US presidential polls: Joe Biden says he will stay in the fight

WASHINGTON, July 4: President Joe Biden continued to resist calls to make way for a younger Democratic candidate, even as two new polls showed Biden losing voters and more voices, both from within his party and liberal civil society, asked the 81-year-old incumbent to end his campaign after his debate performance last week.

In response to the increasing speculation about his candidacy, Biden joined a call with his campaign staff, reached out to Congressional leadership and met with Democratic governors on Wednesday, a day before America closed down for a long holiday weekend.

Although while reports have suggested he is aware that the viability of his candidacy is under strain, Biden told his campaign staff, “Let me say this as clearly as I possibly can and as simply and straightforward as I can: I am running. I am the nominee of the Democratic Party. No one is pushing me out. I am not leaving.”

Biden’s refusal to relent came on a day when a New York Times-Siena poll, conducted after the debate, showed 49% of likely voters supporting the presumptive Republican nominee, former President Donald Trump, while only 43% backed Biden, the largest lead Trump has enjoyed in the poll. An overwhelming 74% found Biden too old for the job.

A Wall Street Journal poll found 48% of voters backing Trump and 42% backing Biden, with 80% of voters saying Biden was too old to run. Trump also enjoys a comfortable lead over Biden in key swing states that will determine the outcome.

The polls confirm what an increasing number of Democrats have felt since last Thursday’s debate, when Biden’s age-related vulnerabilities, including the inability to complete thoughts, construct sentences, defend his record, or attack his opponent, were apparent.

In private, fearful of a second Trump administration, convinced that Biden can no longer beat him, and terrified that Biden’s unpopularity will drag down all other Democrats on the ballot in Congressional and state races this year, party leaders have begun pushing the party to think of an alternative to Biden.

A Democratic state office bearer from a swing state said, “If Biden is our candidate, this election is over. There is no coming back from that debate. It has confirmed the worst fears of voters about his health. We may not win with a new candidate, but we definitely won’t win with Biden as the candidate.”

There is also a view within the party that the crisis can be turned into opportunity. A new and younger panel of candidates can bring energy to the campaign and base, get rid of Biden’s baggage with younger progressives and minorities on issues such as the war in Gaza, and force Trump to change his current narrative that relies on attacking Biden’s age and record.

In public too, increasingly, Democratic representatives have categorically begun asking Biden to either quit or reassure American citizens about his health even though the senior most governors and party leaders have rallied behind the President.

Biden’s campaign has struggled to respond to the criticism. In the hours after the debate, they framed it as “one bad night” that cannot offset three and a half years of his record. The day after the debate, Biden acknowledged that he wasn’t young anymore and he couldn’t speak and walk as well, but contrasted what he framed as his truthfulness with Trump’s lies.

This week, Biden blamed the performance on fatigue. But news reports have also suggested that Biden’s performance wasn’t an aberration and there have been many moments in recent months where he has been incoherent. His staff has put in several measures to protect him from public exposure, and other world leaders have been startled at his decline.

The challenge for Democrats is that never before has a candidate dropped out of the race this late in the electoral process. To start afresh, Biden will have to announce he was quitting and free up his delegates who will congregate at the party convention in mid-August in Chicago to pick a new candidate.

Strikingly, in perhaps the closest analogy to the current moment, it was in Chicago in 1968 when Democrats picked a candidate in turbulent circumstances at a convention after the incumbent, President Lyndon Johnson, chose not to contest and the party faced the wrath of young voters who were then protesting against the Vietnam war.

If Biden does choose to quit, as the vice-president, Kamala Harris — the first woman, the first Black, and the first person of Indian-origin to hold the office — will be a top contender to replace him. Harris has stoutly defended Biden in recent days, including on Wednesday when she told the campaign staff that she was “all in” and will follow the President’s lead.

She also will have access to the campaign’s funds, and her presence has the potential to energise people of colour as well as younger liberals. But many Democrats are concerned about her winnability. For most part, Harris’s favourability ratings have been lower than that of Biden though after the debate, she polled better than the president in a direct face-off with Trump.

There are also questions on whether she can draw in White voters in swing states. And given that Harris was in charge of border and immigration issues — which is Trump’s key campaign critique of the Biden administration — the Republicans will have a clear line of attack against her. The fact that no woman has ever become president, and Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016, also remains embedded in the minds of Democratic operatives.

Washington DC is abuzz with speculation about other contenders. Among those who may seek the nomination are California governor Gavin Newsom (who is seen as a charismatic leader with the ability to raise funds in quick time), Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer (under whom Democrats won the governor, state Senate and state House race in the crucial swing state), Maryland governor Wes Moore (a Rhodes scholar, a combat veteran and only the third Black governor in US history), and Illinois governor JB Pritzker (who belongs to one of America’s wealthiest business families and will have a fundraising advantage).

But all of this will eventually boil down to Biden and his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, both of whom have expressed their determination to continue in the fight. Over the next few days, whether Biden, his family and advisers prevail, or whether the mood among the Democratic rank and file and voters in general prevails, will determine the contours of the 2024 race.

Michelle Obama addresses calls to announce presidency as new poll declares her ‘only Biden alternative’ to beat Trump

WASHINGTON, July 3: Michelle Obama, the former First Lady of the United States, has addressed the calls to run as the presidential candidate of the Democratic party, replacing incumbent Joe Biden.

This comes amidst Democrats' concerns regarding the rerun of 81-year-old Biden following his disastrous presidential debate performance and worries around his mental and physical fitness. They believe these concerns may well be resolved if they manage to convince Michelle Obama to declare her candidacy.

According to NBC News, Michelle's office has again confirmed that she will not run for president in 2024. “As former First Lady Michelle Obama has expressed several times over the years, she will not be running for president.”

Calling politics “hard”, she said: “It's got to be in your soul, because it is so important. It is not in my soul.”

Michelle intends to support the Biden campaign, focusing on voter turnout.

Is Michelle Obama only Biden alternative to beat Trump?

Michelle Obama, 60, is the only potential opponent who can defeat Republican leader Donald Trump in the 2024 White House race, as per a new poll.

According to a Reuters and Ipsos poll, the former first lady would defeat Trump, 78, by ten points, and no other contender could defeat the former president.

Last week, Biden made a number of verbal blunders during the catastrophic debate performance in which US President.

Michelle's support skyrocketed despite previously declaring that she wouldn't run for office and continue to support Biden's reelection.

When asked which Democratic candidate they would prefer, half of the respondents stated they would vote for Michelle, while only 39% indicated they would vote for Trump.

If Biden steps down from the race, the front-runners who can succeed him include Gavin Newsom or Kamala Harris. However, they were polled significantly lower than Trump.

According to the poll, one in three Democrats believe that the president should withdraw from the campaign following the CNN debate. However, no well-known elected Democrat performed any better than Biden. Nearly fifty percent of the respondents surveyed felt that Trump should withdraw from the race, while three out of five believe that Biden should.

Biden blamed his poor debate performance on two international travels in June that involved "going through 100 time zones". He made this claim during a meeting with his family members and confidants at Camp David.

”[I] didn’t listen to my staff and came back and nearly fell asleep on stage,” he stated while attributing his lackluster performance to jet lag. “That’s no excuse but it is an explanation.”

Consulate In New York Develops Platform For Indian Students To Find Internships In US

NEW YORK, July 3: The Indian Consulate in New York has launched a new platform for Indian students to find internship opportunities in the US.

The newly launched portal can be accessed by students to directly apply to the companies according to details provided in it.

"As part of the initiative to support Indian students in its jurisdiction, @IndiainNew York has developed a platform for Indian Students to find internship opportunities at companies in the USA," the Indian Consulate in New York wrote in a post on X.

As part of the initiative to support Indian students in it's jurisdiction, @IndiainNew York has developed a platform for Indian Students to find internship opportunities at companies in the USA.

This is notably a new facility for students as part of the Consulate's effort to support Indian students in its jurisdiction.

Several Indian and American companies and organizations have agreed to consider deserving Indian students for internship opportunities, the Consulate in New York said, referring to the Indian Student Resource Portal.

For the third year in a row, a record number of Indian students travelled to the United States to pursue higher education, the US Embassy in India revealed in a release in November last year.

According to the Open Doors Report (ODR), the number of international students from India to the United States increased by 35 per cent and resulted in an all-time high of 2,68,923 students in the academic year 2022-23.

Indian students constitute more than 25 per cent of the over one million foreign students studying in the United States.

Biden says Supreme Court's immunity ruling on Donald Trump is a ‘dangerous precedent’

WASHINGTON, July 2: Joe Biden has called a recent Supreme Court ruling granting former US President Donald Trump partial immunity from criminal prosecution a “dangerous precedent” that “undermines the rule of law.”

The 46th US president voiced his concern over the decision, saying that it erodes the "rule of law" and does a "terrible disservice" to Americans.

The Supreme Court's decision, announced on Monday, has been lauded by Trump on Truth Social as a “big win” for democracy.

The SC ruled that a president has immunity for “official acts” but not for “unofficial acts,” and the matter was referred back to a trial judge for further consideration.

The court said that Trump's tweets and remarks on January 6, 2021, which allegedly incited the Capitol riot, were official acts.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor remarked, “The President is now a king above the law.”

A White House spokesman watered President Biden's sentiment, saying that “nobody is above the law.”

This decision is likely to slow down the criminal prosecution of Trump, who is said to have tried to insist on the overturn of the 2020 election, which Biden won.

Following the Supreme Court ruling, the former president is now seeking to toss his New York hush-money felony conviction. His lawyers are taking preliminary steps according to a Bloomberg report.

The court’s verdict of six in favour and three against is the factional decision; however, it does not eliminate the charges against Trump but will postpone the trial substantially, which could be held after the November elections.

On Monday, Biden told in a televised statement, “This nation was founded on the principle that there are no kings in America. Each of us is equal before the law. No one, no one is above the law. Not even the president of the United States.”

Biden warned that the Supreme Court's decision “almost certainly means that there are virtually no limits on what a president may do.” Referring to Trump's alleged role in inciting the January 6 Capitol riot, Biden added, “The man who sent that mob to the US Capitol is facing potential criminal conviction for what happened that day. The American people deserve to have an answer in the courts before the upcoming election. Now, because of today's [court] decision, that is highly, highly unlikely.”

Now, the trial judge will decide, as the Supreme Court ruled, which actions were taken in Trump's official capacity as president.

A lower court judge also has to work out which bits of Trump’s behaviour are relevant to the criminal proceedings for the alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Trump Has Some Immunity From Prosecution As Ex President: US Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, July 1: The US Supreme Court ruled Monday that Donald Trump enjoys some immunity from prosecution as a former president, a ruling that will likely delay his trial for conspiring to overturn the 2020 election.

The 6-3 decision split along ideological lines comes four months ahead of the election in which Trump is the Republican candidate to take on Democrat Joe Biden.

Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, in his majority opinion, said a president enjoys "absolute immunity" from criminal prosecution for official acts taken while in office.

"There is no immunity for unofficial acts," Roberts said, sending the case back to a lower court to determine which of the charges facing the former president involves official or unofficial conduct.

The three liberal justices dissented, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor saying "never in the history of our Republic has a President had reason to believe that he would be immune from criminal prosecution if he used the trappings of his office to violate the criminal law."

"With fear for our democracy, I dissent," she said.

Trump's original trial date in the election case had been for March 4, well before his November rematch with President Joe Biden.

But the Supreme Court -- dominated by conservatives, including the three appointed by Trump during his term in office -- agreed in February to hear his argument for presidential immunity, putting the case on hold while they considered the matter in April.

Facing four criminal cases, Trump has been doing everything in his power to delay the trials at least until after the election.

On May 30, a New York court convicted Trump on 34 felony charges of falsifying business records to cover up a sex scandal in the final stages of the 2016 presidential campaign, making Trump the first former US president ever convicted of a crime.

His sentencing will take place on July 11.

The New York hush money case was considered the weakest of the four cases by many legal experts, but likely the only one that will see trial before the vote.

By filing many pre-trial motions, Trump's lawyers have managed to put on hold the three other trials, which deal with his attempts to overturn the 2020 election results and hoarding top-secret documents at his home in Florida.

If reelected, Trump could, once sworn in as president in January 2025, order the federal trials against him closed.

 

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