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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Wednesday Briefing

President Biden appeared confused or listless in the weeks and months before his devastating debate performance last week, according to current and former officials who said that the lapses seemed to be growing more frequent, more pronounced and more worrisome.

Biden, 81, is apparently not always that way: Many of those who were with him in the days since the debate described him as alert, coherent and capable. But by many accounts, he is not the same today as he was even when he took office three and a half years ago.

Speaking in Virginia yesterday, Biden acknowledged that he “fell asleep on the stage” during his disastrous debate last week, blaming his performance on the fact that he had traveled “around the world a couple times” in the two weeks before. “It’s not an excuse but an explanation,” he said.

Opponent: Donald Trump, 78, has shown his own signs of slipping over the years and often makes statements that are incoherent. While voters have expressed worries about his age as well, their concerns about him have not been to the same degree as those about Biden.

Israel issued a new round of evacuation orders yesterday in the city of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, sending thousands of Palestinians once again fleeing for relative safety. The U.N. estimated that some 250,000 people would have to leave the area to comply with the new orders.

The trigger for the evacuation orders appeared to be a barrage of roughly 20 rockets that the Israeli military said had been fired from Khan Younis by Palestinian militants a day earlier. Israeli forces struck back overnight after “enabling civilians to evacuate from the area,” the military said.

Calls for a truce: Israel’s top military leaders want a cease-fire in Gaza even if it keeps Hamas in power for the time being, security officials said. That position puts them at odds with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has opposed a deal that would allow Hamas to survive the war.


A stampede at a Hindu prayer meeting in the state of Uttar Pradesh yesterday killed more than 100 people and left many others injured. Local officials suggested that heat and overcrowding had set off a panic at the gathering, which appeared to had drawn a far larger crowd than the 5,000 people allowed by its permit.

Most of the dead and injured were women and children, who appear to have suffocated in a crush to leave the venue. Witnesses told local media that some of the victims had fallen into a drainage ditch on top of one another.

Context: Stampedes during religious pilgrimages are relatively common in India, usually because of poor enforcement of public safety measures. Recently, the authorities have increased surveillance, with more police officers and drones.

Russia’s invasion has driven Ukraine to become the Silicon Valley for autonomous weaponry, often made by local companies adapting consumer goods.

The availability of off-the-shelf devices, software, powerful algorithms and specialized artificial intelligence microchips has pushed a deadly innovation race into uncharted territory, fueling a potential new era of killer robots.

Lives lived: The painter and sculptor June Leaf, whose exploration of the female form paved the way for generations of feminist artists, has died at 94.

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