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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

Original Publication Date July 05, 2024 - 9:06 PM

To a defiant Biden, the 2024 race is up to the voters, not to Democrats on Capitol Hill

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — To a defiant President Joe Biden, the 2024 election is up to the public — not the Democrats on Capitol Hill. But the chorus of Democratic voices calling for him to step aside is growing, from donors, strategists, lawmakers and their constituents who say he should bow out.

The party has not fallen in line behind him even after the events that were set up as part of a blitz to reset his imperiled campaign and show everyone he wasn’t too old to stay in the job or to do it another four years.

On Saturday, a fifth Democratic lawmaker said openly that Biden should not run again. Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota said that after what she saw and heard in the debate with Republican rival Donald Trump, and Biden’s “lack of a forceful response” afterward, he should step aside “and allow for a new generation of leaders to step forward.”

Craig posted one of the Democrats’ key suburban wins in the 2018 midterms and could be a barometer for districts that were vital for Biden in 2020.

With the Democratic convention approaching and just four months to Election Day, neither camp in the party can much afford this internecine drama much longer. But it is bound to drag on until Biden steps aside or Democrats realize he won’t and learn to contain their concerns about the president’s chances against Trump.

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Reformist Pezeshkian beats hard-liner to win Iran presidential election, promising outreach to West

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Reformist candidate Masoud Pezeshkian won Iran’s runoff presidential election Saturday, besting hard-liner Saeed Jalili by promising to reach out to the West and ease enforcement on the country’s mandatory headscarf law after years of sanctions and protests squeezing the Islamic Republic.

Pezeshkian promised no radical changes to Iran’s Shiite theocracy in his campaign and long has held Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the final arbiter of all matters of state in the country. But even Pezeshkian’s modest aims will be challenged by an Iranian government still largely held by hard-liners, the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip, and Western fears over Tehran enriching uranium to near-weapons-grade levels with enough of a stockpile to produce several nuclear weapons if it chose.

A vote count offered by authorities put Pezeshkian as the winner with 16.3 million votes to Jalili’s 13.5 million in Friday’s election. Overall, Iran's Interior Ministry said 30 million people voted in an election held without internationally recognized monitors, representing a turnout of 49.6% — higher than the historic low of the June 28 first round vote but lower than other presidential races.

Supporters of Pezeshkian, a heart surgeon and longtime lawmaker, entered the streets of Tehran and other cities before dawn to celebrate as his lead grew over Jalili, a hard-line former nuclear negotiator. Pezeshkian later traveled to the mausoleum of the late Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and addressed journalists in a chaotic event.

“In this election, I didn’t give you false promises. I did not lie,” Pezeshkian said. “It’s been many years after the revolution that we come to the podium, we make promises and we fail to fulfill them. This is the biggest problem we have.”

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More records expected to shatter as long-running blanket of heat threatens 130 million in U.S.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Roughly 130 million people were under threat Saturday and into next week from a long-running heat wave that already has broken records with dangerously high temperatures — and is expected to shatter more from East Coast to West Coast, forecasters said.

Oppressive heat and humidity could team up to spike temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (about 38 degrees Celsius) in parts of the Pacific Northwest, the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, said Jacob Asherman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

In Oregon, records could be broken in cities including Eugene, Portland and Salem, Asherman said. Dozens of other records throughout the U.S. could fall, Asherman added, causing millions to seek relief from the blanket of heat in cooling centers from Bullhead City, Arizona, to Norfolk, Virginia.

The National Weather Service said Saturday it was extending the excessive heat warning for much of the Southwest into Friday.

“A dangerous and historic heatwave is just getting started across the area, with temperatures expected to peak during the Sunday-Wednesday timeframe,” the National Weather Service in Las Vegas said in an updated forecast.

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Texas coast braces for looming hit by Beryl, which is expected to regain hurricane strength

HOUSTON (AP) — Texas officials urged coastal residents to brace for a looming hit by Beryl, which was a tropical storm on Saturday but was expected to regain hurricane strength as it moves across the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

A hurricane warning was declared for a stretch of the state's coast from Baffin Bay, south of Corpus Christi, to Sargent, south of Houston, and forecasters said the storm's center was likely to approach the state Sunday and then make landfall the following day. Storm surge warnings were also in effect.

“We’re expecting the storm to make landfall somewhere on the Texas coast sometime Monday, if the current forecast is correct,” said Jack Beven, a senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. “Should that happen, it’ll most likely be a Category 1 hurricane.”

The earliest storm to develop into a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic, Beryl caused at least 11 deaths as it passed through the Caribbean islands earlier in the week. It then battered Mexico as a Category 2 hurricane, toppling trees but causing no injuries or deaths before weakening to a tropical storm as it moved across the Yucatan Peninsula.

Texas officials warned people along the entire coastline to prepare for possible flooding, heavy rain and wind as the storm nears.

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Hamas clears the way for a possible cease-fire in Gaza after dropping key demand, officials say

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza (AP) — Hamas has given its initial approval of a U.S.-backed proposal for a phased cease-fire deal in Gaza, dropping a key demand that Israel commit up front to a complete end to the war, a Hamas official and an Egyptian official said Saturday.

The apparent compromise by the militant group, which controlled Gaza before triggering the war with an Oct. 7 attack on Israel, could deliver the first pause in fighting since November and set the stage for further talks on ending a devastating nine months of fighting. But all sides cautioned that a deal is still not guaranteed.

Inside Gaza, the Health Ministry said an Israeli airstrike on a school-turned-shelter killed at least 16 people and wounded at least 50 others in the Nuseirat refugee camp. Children were among the dead and wounded. Israel’s military said it struck several “terrorists” operating in the area of the school and had tried to lessen the risk to civilians.

The two officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing negotiations, said Washington’s phased deal would start with a “full and complete” six-week cease-fire during which older, sick and female hostages would be released in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. During those 42 days, Israeli forces would withdraw from densely populated areas of Gaza and allow the return of displaced people to their homes in northern Gaza, the officials said.

A senior Hamas official, also speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss negotiations, later told The Associated Press that female soldiers would be among those released in the first phase.

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A NATO summit and mending EU relations are among first tasks for new UK leader Keir Starmer

LONDON (AP) — New British Prime Minister Keir Starmer doesn’t get to take a breather. After a draining six-week election campaign, the center-left politician must get straight to work assembling his government, tackling a mountain of domestic problems and putting his stamp on the U.K.’s relations with the rest of the world.

It’s a daunting list for a new leader who has never served in, much less led, a government. But Starmer insisted that he is up to the challenge of heading the U.K. in a world that is “a more volatile place” than it has been for many years.

Like someone moving into a new home with their IKEA furniture, Starmer’s first task was to assemble a Cabinet.

Starmer began putting together his government soon after he walked through the door of 10 Downing St. on Friday afternoon following his landslide election victory. He has a plethora of lawmakers to choose from – his Labour Party won more than 400 seats in Thursday's election, almost two-thirds of the 650 in the House of Commons.

Key players in the new administration include Treasury chief Rachel Reeves – a former Bank of England economist and the first woman to hold that job – who will liaise with international financial institutions.

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It's France's moment of truth. Here's how its snap elections work and what comes next

PARIS (AP) — French voters face a decisive choice Sunday in the runoff of snap parliamentary elections that could produce the country’s first far-right government since the World War II Nazi occupation — or no majority emerging at all.

Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration, nationalist party National Rally stands a chance of winning a legislative majority for the first time, but the outcome remains uncertain because of a complex voting system and tactical maneuvers by political parties.

Voters across France and overseas territories can cast ballots for 501 of the 577 seats in the National Assembly, the lower and most important of France’s two houses of parliament. The other 76 races were won outright in the first round of voting.

The National Rally and its allies arrived ahead in Round 1 with around one-third of the votes. A coalition of center-left, hard-left and greens parties called the New Popular Front came in second position, well ahead of President Emmanuel Macron’s struggling centrist alliance.

In the frantic week between the two rounds, more than 200 centrist and left-wing candidates pulled out of races to boost the chances of their moderate rivals and try to keep National Rally candidates from winning.

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Putin sees no need for nuclear weapons to win in Ukraine. But he's also keeping his options open

The message to NATO from President Vladimir Putin was simple and stark: Don't go too far in providing military support for Ukraine, or you'll risk a conflict with Russia that could quickly turn nuclear.

As the war in Ukraine turns slowly in Moscow's favor, Putin declared he doesn’t need nuclear weapons to achieve his goals. But he also says it's wrong for the West to assume that Russia will never use them.

“It mustn’t be treated in a light, superficial way,” Putin said in June, reaffirming that Russia's nuclear doctrine calls for using atomic weapons if it perceives a threat to its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Moscow’s nuclear messaging — coming as NATO allies move to shore up exhausted and outgunned Ukrainian forces — heralds what could become the most dangerous phase in the war.

Moscow has carried out drills with its tactical — or battlefield — nuclear weapons in southern Russia and with ally Belarus, where some were deployed in 2023. Russian Defense Ministry videos showed Iskander missile launchers, nuclear-capable warplanes and sea-launched missiles.

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'Freedom!' chants at Venezuelan opposition rallies ahead of election show depth of needs and fear

BARINAS, Venezuela (AP) — The chant is concise, but it could not be more meaningful for millions of Venezuelans in 2024: “Freedom!”

Members of the country's political opposition shout it with tears in their eyes, or red angry faces, or with hopeful ear-to-ear smiles. They shout it with Venezuelan flags in their hands or holding their children. They shout it sporting a soccer jersey or wearing a political party’s T-shirt.

The calls for “libertad" have been a staple of the opposition’s events ahead of the highly anticipated July 28 presidential election. With the official start of campaigns this week, they were deafening during a massive rally Saturday in the western Venezuelan state of Barinas, the home state of the late fiery President Hugo Chávez.

Students, state employees, retirees, agriculture workers and business owners were among the thousands gathered in support of Edmundo González Urrutia, the only candidate with a real chance of ending President Nicolás Maduro’s quest for a third term. Their chants, collectively, represent long-sought freedom from the 25-year rule of self-described socialist governments. Individually, people are seeking wide-ranging freedoms, including the freedom to post government criticisms on social media without fearing repercussions.

“I want economic freedom, freedom of purchasing power, freedom of a living wage,” Virginia Linares, 41, said with teary eyes. “We feel locked in, we feel like something is being taken away from us because a salary that is not decent is a salary that overshadows us as people, we do not achieve the things we want, our dreams.”

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Jon Landau, Oscar-winning 'Titanic' and 'Avatar' producer, dies at 63

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jon Landau, an Oscar-winning producer who worked closely with director James Cameron on three of the biggest blockbusters of all time, “Titanic” and two “Avatar” films, has died. He was 63.

Landau's family announced his death Saturday. No cause of death was given.

Landau's partnership with Cameron led to three Oscar nominations and a best picture win for 1997's “Titanic.” Together the pair account for some of the biggest blockbusters in movie history, including “Avatar” and its sequel, “Avatar: The Way of Water.”

“Jon Landau believed in the dream of cinema. He believed that film is the ultimate human art form, and to make films you have to first be human yourself,” Cameron said in a lengthy statement posted by The Hollywood Reporter. “He will be remembered as much for his vast generosity of spirit as for the movies themselves.

“I worked with Jon Landau for 31 years and I never saw him downcast once,” Cameron said. “He led with a balance of humor and fierce will, and true joy in the work.”

News from © The Associated Press, 2024
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