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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Jem Bartholomew

First Thing: Democrats torn over Biden amid concern over whether he can win

President Joe Biden speaks at the Nato 75th snniversary ceremony in Washington DC
President Joe Biden speaks at the Nato 75th anniversary ceremony in DC on Tuesday. Photograph: Radek Pietruszka/EPA

Good morning.

After a day of private meetings on Capitol Hill, congressional Democrats appeared torn over whether Joe Biden should remain the party’s nominee, as concerns deepen over the 81-year-old president’s age, mental acuity and ability to win the White House for a second term.

Lawmakers emerged from a closed-door meeting on Tuesday morning stone-faced, appearing uneasy about Biden’s path forward, even if most weren’t ready to publicly call on him to step aside. The Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, deflected questions about Biden’s ability to win the White House in November, repeating three times: “I’m with Joe.”

Representative Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey became the seventh congressional Democrat to call on Biden to step aside. “The stakes are too high – and the threat is too real – to stay silent,” she said.

  • Who has affirmed their support of Biden? Most prominent Democrats: the vice-president, Kamala Harris; Schumer, the Senate majority leader; the South Carolina representative James Clyburn; senior members of the Black and Hispanic caucuses; and progressives including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar.

  • What did Biden say in his Nato speech? On Tuesday, in Biden’s headline speech – a critical step to convincing foreign leaders he remains up to the task – the president said in forceful tones: “Today, Nato is stronger than it’s ever been in its history.”

Israeli strike on Khan Younis shelter kills at least 25 amid surge in Gaza fighting

An Israeli airstrike on a school turned shelter in southern Gaza has killed at least 25 people, according to Palestinian officials, as a stepped-up military offensive in the territory sent thousands fleeing in search of refuge.

The airstrike on Tuesday afternoon hit the tents of displaced families outside a school in the town of Abassan, east of Khan Younis. An Associated Press reporter who counted the bodies at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis said 25 people were killed. Health officials said the dead included at least seven women and children.

The area hit was crowded at the time of the attack, according to witnesses who spoke to the BBC, one of whom reported that as many as 3,000 people were packed into the area at the time of the strike.

  • What’s the latest on ceasefire negotiations? Mediation efforts led by Egypt, Qatar and the US continue, with Egyptian media reporting that talks are due to continue in Doha and Cairo this week, attended by the CIA director and Israel’s Mossad chief.

  • What effect is latest wave of attacks having on the talks? On Monday night, Hamas’s Qatar-based political chief, Ismail Haniyeh, said that the “catastrophic consequences” of the latest battles on the ground in Gaza could “reset the negotiation process to square one”.

Zelenskiy says world can stop ‘Russian terror’ after attack on Kyiv children’s hospital

Rescuers have continued to dig through the rubble of a children’s hospital in Kyiv after a wave of devastating Russian missile strikes across the country on Monday that killed 38 people, including four children.

Before the Nato summit in Washington, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, renewed his call for more air defences and said the world had the “necessary strength” to stop what he called “Russian terror”.

  • How many people did the Russian strikes affect? At least 38 people were killed, and Zelenskiy said 190 people had been injured and 64 hospitalised as a result of Monday’s country-wide attacks.

  • What did Ukraine’s SBU security service say about it? It said missile fragments recovered from the scene, as well as flight path data, showed Moscow had targeted Okhmatdyt children’s hospital with a Kh-101 cruise missile.

In other news …

  • India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, landed in Russia for his first visit since the full invasion of Ukraine on Monday, to cement the “bonds of friendship” between the two countries.

  • Seven reporters have been killed in Pakistan in the first six months of 2024, a record annual number with half a year still to go.

  • A Russian military court has sentenced a playwright and a theatre director to six years in prison, on charges of “justifying terrorism” in a play about women marrying jihadists in Syria.

  • Disney could face the largest strike in the US this year, after it was announced that 14,000 theme park and hotel workers in California will vote on whether to stage a walkout.

Stat of the day: US justice department says it disrupted Russian social media influence operation

The US Department of Justice said on Tuesday that it disrupted a Russian operation that used fake social media accounts enhanced by artificial intelligence to covertly spread pro-Kremlin messages. The justice department secured court approval to seize two domain names and search nearly 1,000 social media accounts allegedly associated with the effort.

Don’t miss this: The mysterious art of the casting director

Is it gatekeeping or dream-making? Art or science? As the Oscars get set to award casting directors for the first time, Kate Wyver speaks to British theatre’s finest, who share the secrets of their trade. “When you see the truth in front of you,” one says, “you just know that’s the person.”

Climate check: Florida tree cactus becomes first local species killed off by sea-level rise

Scientists in Florida have recorded what they say is the first local extinction of a species caused by sea-level rise. The climate emergency has killed off the Key Largo tree cactus growing naturally in the US through saltwater inundation and soil depletion from hurricanes, researchers say.

Last Thing: Locals save ice cream truck washed out to sea

Holidaymakers in England had to come to the rescue along with the coastguard when an ice-cream truck parked on the beach was washed out to sea. Seawater flooded the Kelly Whip truck (the driver was not in the vehicle at the time) parked on Harlyn Bay beach. “Even the surfers started surfing past the van,” a witness said.

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