Biden’s candidacy faces new peril as more Democratic lawmakers and campaign supporters weigh in

Biden’s candidacy faces new peril as more Democratic lawmakers and campaign supporters weigh in
Democratic candidate US President Joe Biden walks offstage with first lady Dr. Jill Biden at the conclusion of a presidential debate with Republican presidential candidate former U.S. President Donald Trump, in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 27, 2024. (REUTERS/File Photo)
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Updated 11 July 2024
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Biden’s candidacy faces new peril as more Democratic lawmakers and campaign supporters weigh in

Biden’s candidacy faces new peril as more Democratic lawmakers and campaign supporters weigh in
  • The sudden flurry of grave pronouncements despite Biden’s determined insistence he is not leaving the 2024 race put on public display just how unsettled the question remains among prominent Democrats
  • Democrats have been reeling over whether to continue backing Biden after his poor showing in the June 27 presidential debate with Trump

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden’s imperiled re-election campaign hit new trouble Wednesday as House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi said merely “it’s up to the president to decide” if he should stay in the race, celebrity donor George Clooney said he should not run and Democratic senators and lawmakers expressed fresh fear about his ability to beat Republican Donald Trump.
The sudden flurry of grave pronouncements despite Biden’s determined insistence he is not leaving the 2024 race put on public display just how unsettled the question remains among prominent Democrats. On Capitol Hill, an eighth House Democrat, Rep. Pat Ryan of New York, and later a ninth, Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, publicly asked Biden to step aside.
“I want him to do whatever he decides to do,” Pelosi said Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” rather than declaring Biden should stay in. While Biden has said repeatedly that he’s made his decision, she said, “We’re all encouraging him to make that decision, because time is running short.”
It’s a crucial moment for the president and his party, as Democrats consider what was once unthinkable — having the incumbent Biden step aside, just weeks before the Democratic National Convention that is on track to nominate him as their candidate for reelection.
Biden is hosting world leaders in Washington for the NATO summit this week with a crowded schedule of formal meetings, sideline chats and long diplomatic dinners showcasing his skills. His party at a crossroads, Biden faces the next national public test Thursday at a scheduled news conference that many Democrats in Congress will be watching for signs of his abilities.
To be sure, Biden maintains strong support from key corners of his coalition, particularly the Congressional Black Caucus on Capitol Hill, whose leadership was instrumental in ushering the president to victory in 2020 and is standing by him as the country’s best choice to defeat Trump again in 2024.
“At this moment, the stakes are too high and we have to focus,” Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota told The Associated Press on Tuesday, saying Democrats are “losing ground” the longer they fight over Biden’s candidacy. “Democracy is on the line. Everything we value as Democrats, as a country, is on the line, and we have to stop being distracted.”
Pelosi has been widely watched for signals of how top Democrats are thinking about Biden’s wounded candidacy, her comments viewed as important for the party’s direction as members weigh possible alternatives in the campaign against Trump.
Because of her powerful position as the former House speaker and proximity to Biden as a trusted longtime ally of his generation, Pelosi is seen as one of the few Democratic leaders who could influence the president’s thinking.
The lack of a full statement from Pelosi backing Biden’s continued campaign is what lawmakers are likely to hear most clearly, even as she told ABC later she believes he can win. Her remarks came as actor Clooney, who had just hosted a glitzy Hollywood fundraiser for the president last month, said in a New York Times op-ed that the Biden he saw three weeks ago wasn’t the Joe Biden of 2020. “He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate.”
Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado, spoke forcefully late Tuesday about the danger of a second Trump presidency and said it’s for the president “to consider” the options.
Stopping just short of calling for Biden to drop out, Bennet said on CNN what he told his colleagues in private – that he believes Trump “is on track to win this election — and maybe win it by a landslide and take with him the Senate and the House.”
Bennet said, “It’s not a question about politics. It’s a moral question about the future of our country.”
Another Democrat, Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, said Wednesday he was “deeply concerned” about Biden winning the election, which he called existential for the country.
“We have to reach a conclusion as soon as possible,” Blumenthal said on CNN.
And Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia told reporters, “I have complete confidence that Joe Biden will do the patriotic thing for the country. And he’s going to make that decision.”
Democrats have been reeling over whether to continue backing Biden after his poor showing in the June 27 presidential debate with Trump and his campaign’s lackluster response to their pleas that Biden, at 81, show voters he is up for another four-year term.
Biden and his campaign are working more intently now to shore up support, and the president met with labor leaders Wednesday, relying on the unions to help make the case that his record in office matters more than his age.
With the executive council of the AFL-CIO, America’s largest federation of trade unions, Biden told the crowd that even Wall Street was acknowledging the power of unions, as he once again articulated his vision for an economy built “from the bottom up and middle out.”
“I said I’m going to be the most pro-union president in American history,” Biden told the cheering crowd. “Well guess what? I am.”
While more House Democrats have publicly called on Biden to end his candidacy, no Senate Democrats have gone that far. Bennet was among three Democratic senators, including Jon Tester of Montana and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who spoke up during a private lunch Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the meeting and granted anonymity to discuss it.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer invited Biden’s campaign to address senators’ concerns. The president’s team is sending senior Biden advisers Mike Donilon and Steve Ricchetti, and Campaign Chair Jen O’Malley Dillon to meet with Democratic senators privately Thursday for a caucus lunch, according to both a Senate leadership aide and the Biden campaign.
There were some concerns, however, that it could backfire. One Democratic senator who requested anonymity to speak about the closed-door meeting said it could be a waste of time if Biden would not make the case to senators himself.
Pelosi of California said Biden “has been a great president” who is beloved and respected by House Democrats.
The Californian said she watched as he delivered a forceful speech at the NATO summit on Tuesday, and recounted his many accomplishments.
While foreign leaders are in Washington this week and Biden is on the world stage hosting the event at a critical time in foreign affairs, Pelosi encouraged Democrats to “let’s just hold off” with any announcements about his campaign.
“Whatever you’re thinking, either tell somebody privately but you don’t have to put that out on the table until we see,” she said, how it goes “this week.”
 


Macron’s political gamble casts shadow over Paris Olympics

Macron’s political gamble casts shadow over Paris Olympics
Updated 4 sec ago
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Macron’s political gamble casts shadow over Paris Olympics

Macron’s political gamble casts shadow over Paris Olympics
  • As he prepares to welcome more than 100 heads of state and tens of thousands of spectators for Friday’s opening ceremony along the Seine, Macron is a fragile force
PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron hoped the Paris Olympics would cement his legacy. But a failed bet on a snap legislative election has left him politically stunted, casting a lingering shadow over Macron’s moment on the international stage.
As he prepares to welcome more than 100 heads of state and tens of thousands of spectators for Friday’s opening ceremony along the Seine, Macron is a fragile force — an unpopular president presiding over a caretaker government as it hosts the world’s largest sporting event amid heightened security fears.
“Macron expected to welcome the Games like an emperor,” said French historian Patrick Weil. “But now he’s a lame duck.”
Walking around the Olympic Village on Monday, Macron defended his decision to dissolve parliament and denied the ensuing political instability would overshadow the Games.
“It was me who decided,” he said, referring to his determination to call the election ahead of the Games.
“There is no bitter taste. On the contrary, we did the things that needed to be done before (the Olympics). Now we can fully focus on the Games.”
And in a bid to keep the crisis at bay for a few weeks, he appeared to suggest he was unlikely to name a prime minister until the Games were over.
“There is a sort of truce,” he said.
Macron called the legislative vote after a thumping by the far-right National Rally (RN) in last month’s EU election, saying he wanted the poll to provide clarity.
Instead, French voters delivered a hung parliament and no bloc has so far been able to form a government, leaving Macron’s previous cabinet to manage day-to-day affairs in a caretaker capacity.
“The Olympics are a great break, an extraordinary moment, a brilliant showcase for our country,” said far-right lawmaker Julien Odoul. “But the difficulties of our compatriots continue despite the Olympic Games. And this National Assembly is currently not in a position to provide a response.”
Macron aides, Olympics officials, lawmakers and public figures stressed to Reuters that the show would go on, with years of security and logistics planning unaffected by the politics. But some acknowledged the fallout from the political crisis would hang over the Games.
Socialist lawmaker Christine Pires-Beaune said Macron’s expedited vote had left many French bewildered and angry.
“We have never been in such a thick fog,” she said.
It was not supposed to be this way.
In his New Year’s Eve address to the nation last December, Macron spoke with pride and optimism about the year ahead.
“Only once in a century does one host the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” he said. “2024 will be a year of determination, of choices and of regeneration.”
But more than six months later, Macron’s hopes of regenerating his mandate have evaporated, while the political crisis provoked by his quickfire election has also contributed to weaker-than-expected tourist appetite for the Games.
Flight and hotel bookings to Paris during the Olympics have come in lower than expected, Reuters reported earlier this month, with experts pointing the finger at high travel and accommodation costs, security fears — and political tumult.
The ceaseless drama of the US election — which has so far included an assassination attempt against Republican candidate Donald Trump and President Joe Biden dropping out of the race — has also lured eyeballs away from Macron’s flagship event.
At the Olympic Village on Monday, Macron shook hands with volunteers, wearing a confident smile.
“We are ready,” the president told police officers before thanking Olympic Village staff for their work.
French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera acknowledged that the last few weeks had been “difficult politically.”
But she rejected the idea that the political crisis had stained the Games. She said France could breathe a sigh of relief that the far-right had not won enough seats to form a government, as some polls had projected.
“I think that the Games will allow the country to come together more than ever this summer,” she told Reuters.
Arielle Dombasle, a US-born French singer and actor, recently set social media alight with her performance of a stomping, operatic Olympic number at Paris City Hall, in which she was dressed in a white, hooped, floor-length skirt and peroxide wig.
“There is a terrible bashing among the French of the Olympics, which are nevertheless an astonishing international gathering of the most extraordinary human specimens: the man who jumps the highest, the woman who swims the fastest,” she said.
“There is an atmosphere of anxiety. The world is in disorder, to say the least. But these Games are the occasion for the greatest celebrations.”

Typhoon prompts cancellation of Taiwan air force drills but naval exercises set to continue

Typhoon prompts cancellation of Taiwan air force drills but naval exercises set to continue
Updated 8 min 51 sec ago
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Typhoon prompts cancellation of Taiwan air force drills but naval exercises set to continue

Typhoon prompts cancellation of Taiwan air force drills but naval exercises set to continue
  • The Air Force 5th Tactical Mixed Wing announced the cancellation, citing adverse weather conditions

TAIPEI: The arrival of typhoon Gaemi prompted the cancellation of air force drills off Taiwan’s east coast on Tuesday, although naval and land exercises are set to continue in other parts of the self-governing island democracy, which China threatens to invade.
The Air Force 5th Tactical Mixed Wing announced the cancellation, citing adverse weather conditions.
According to the Central Weather Bureau, Typhoon Kaemi is heading westward toward China after bringing moderate flooding to Taiwan’s east coast. Major cities such as Kaosiung, Tainan, Taichung and the capital Taipei were spared any major damage.
Military spokesperson Sun Li-fang said the annual Han Kuang military exercises are on track to continue with adjustments to ensure the safety of personnel and equipment, although some sea and air exercises would be altered due to the weather.
This year’s drills follow the election of Lai Cheng-te as president, who continues the Democratic Progressive Party near-decade in power. The party rejects Beijing’s demands that it recognize Taiwan as a Chinese territory.
Taiwan’s military has long relied on support from the United States, but has in recent years reinvigorated its domestic arms industry, producing submarines and training aircraft that compliment upgraded weapon systems purchased from abroad.


After protests, Bangladesh government to formally accept ruling on job quotas

After protests, Bangladesh government to formally accept ruling on job quotas
Updated 14 min 47 sec ago
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After protests, Bangladesh government to formally accept ruling on job quotas

After protests, Bangladesh government to formally accept ruling on job quotas
  • Protests that erupted last week turned violent, resulting in the killing of almost 150 people
  • Protesters want overturned a high court decision that reinstated quota system for government jobs 

DHAKA: The Bangladesh government is expected to formally accept on Tuesday a court ruling to lower quotas for state jobs, media reported, meeting a key demand of the students who had been protesting for days.

Calm prevailed in Dhaka and most major cities in Bangladesh for a second day amid a curfew and an Internet and telecoms shutdown that the government imposed after the protests that erupted last week turned into one of the worst outbreaks of violence in recent years, killing almost 150 people.

The protesters wanted the government to overturn a high court decision last month that reinstated a quota system putting aside nearly 60 percent of government jobs for certain people, including families of those who fought in Bangladesh’s war of independence.

The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had scrapped the quotas in 2018.

On Sunday, the Supreme Court agreed to scrap most of the quotas and Hasina approved the verdict late on Monday.

The government’s acceptance of the court ruling is expected to be published in its formal record on Tuesday, media reports said, in line with one of the demands of the protesters.

Hasina on Monday blamed her political opponents for violence and said the curfew, imposed since Friday, would be lifted “whenever the situation gets better.”

The protesters have given the government 48 hours to meet 8 demands, which include a public apology from Hasina and the reopening of the university campuses that were shut when the violence began.

Malaysia on Tuesday joined the list of countries trying to evacuate its citizens from Bangladesh because of the violence, with the foreign ministry saying the flight was expected to arrive in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday afternoon.

India also said at least 4,500 Indian students had returned home over the last few days from Bangladesh. 


Joe Biden continues to recover from COVID-19, stays out of public view after ending his 2024 campaign

Joe Biden continues to recover from COVID-19, stays out of public view after ending his 2024 campaign
Updated 23 July 2024
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Joe Biden continues to recover from COVID-19, stays out of public view after ending his 2024 campaign

Joe Biden continues to recover from COVID-19, stays out of public view after ending his 2024 campaign
  • The president was last seen in public late Wednesday after arriving at a US air base in Dover, Delaware
  • Joe Biden had completed his 10th dose of the COVID-fighting medication Paxlovid on Monday morning

REHOBOTH BEACH, Delaware: President Joe Biden’s “symptoms have almost resolved completely” from COVID-19, according to his physician, as the president on Monday remained out of public view for the fifth straight day.
Biden called into the Wilmington, Delaware, headquarters of his former campaign during a visit by Vice President Kamala Harris, whose bid for the White House has been endorsed by Biden. The president sought to pep up the staff, urging them to give “every bit” of their “heart and soul” to Harris. Biden also vowed to be “out on the road” campaigning for his vice president.
“If I didn’t have Covid, I’d be standing there with you,” said Biden, whose voice sounded a touch gravely.
The president was last seen in public late Wednesday after arriving at a US air base in Dover, Delaware, after testing positive for COVID-19 while campaigning in Las Vegas earlier in the day. He then motorcaded to his vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The White House says Biden plans to return to the White House on Tuesday afternoon.
Biden’s physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, said that the president had completed his 10th dose of the COVID-fighting medication Paxlovid on Monday morning and continued to perform all of his presidential duties.
“His symptoms have almost resolved completely. His pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate and temperature remain absolutely normal,” O’Connor wrote. “His oxygen saturation continues to be excellent on room air. His lungs remain clear.”
The White House said Biden received separate briefings on Monday from homeland security adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall and national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Both briefings were conducted virtually.
Biden’s public schedule for the week has remained clear as he recovers from the virus, but he said in his letter on Sunday that he planned to deliver an address to the nation this week to discuss his decision to end his candidacy.
Biden plans to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House Thursday, according to a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the White House announcement.
Biden also plans to meet at the White House later this week with the families of Americans who are still being held hostage in Gaza, according to a statement from the group of families who met privately with Sullivan earlier Monday.
It would be the second time that Biden has met with the families. The families again publicly urged Israel and Hamas to come to an agreement on a ceasefire deal that would release their loved ones. Biden in late May proposed a three-phased deal aimed at returning remaining hostages taken by Hamas in the Oct. 7 attack on Israel and could potentially lead to a permanent truce to end the nine-month war in Gaza.
“We’re going to keep working to an end to the war in Gaza,” Biden said during his call-in to the campaign headquarters. “I’ll be working really closely with the Israelis and with the Palestinians to try to work out how we can get the Gaza war to end, and Middle East peace, and get all those hostages home. I think we’re on the verge of being able to do that.”


Bangladesh arrest total approaches 1,200: tally

Bangladesh arrest total approaches 1,200: tally
Updated 23 July 2024
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Bangladesh arrest total approaches 1,200: tally

Bangladesh arrest total approaches 1,200: tally
  • At least 173 people have died, including several police officers, according to a separate count
  • A curfew has been imposed and soldiers deployed across the South Asian country

DHAKA: The number of arrests in days of violence in Bangladesh approached the 1,200 mark in an AFP tally on Tuesday, after protests over employment quotas sparked widespread unrest.
At least 173 people have died, including several police officers, according to a separate AFP count of victims reported by police and hospitals.
What began as demonstrations against politicized admission quotas for sought-after government jobs snowballed last week into some of the worst unrest of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s tenure.
The student group leading the demonstrations suspended its protests Monday for 48 hours, with its leader saying they had not wanted reform “at the expense of so much blood.”
A curfew has been imposed and soldiers deployed across the South Asian country, while a nationwide Internet blackout since Thursday has drastically restricted the flow of information.
On Sunday, the Supreme Court pared back the number of reserved jobs for specific groups, including the descendants of “freedom fighters” from Bangladesh’s 1971 liberation war against Pakistan.
The restrictions remained in place Tuesday after the army chief said the law and order situation had been brought “under control.”
At least 200 people had been arrested in the central districts of Narayanganj and Narsingdi, their police chiefs said, while at least 80 had been held in Bogra.
At least 168 had been arrested in the industrial city of Gazipur, 75 in the northern city of Rangpur, and 60 in Barisal in the south, senior police officials said.
In the rural and industrial part of Dhaka 80 people were arrested, on top of an earlier figure of at least 532 for the capital itself, giving a total of 1,195.
There was a heavy military presence in Dhaka on Tuesday, with bunkers set up at some intersections and key roads blocked with barbed wire.
But more people were on the streets, as were hundreds of rickshaws.
“I did not drive rickshaws the first few days of curfew, But today I didn’t have any choice,” rickshaw driver Hanif said. “If I don’t do it, my family will go hungry.”