AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EDT

 Beryl weakens to tropical depression after slamming into Texas as Category 1 hurricane HOUSTON (AP) — After Hurricane Beryl slammed into Texas early Monday, knocking out power to nearly 3 million homes and businesses, unleashing heavy rain and killing at least three people it moved east and later weakened to a tropical depression, the National [[{“value”:”

Beryl weakens to tropical depression after slamming into Texas as Category 1 hurricane

HOUSTON (AP) — After Hurricane Beryl slammed into Texas early Monday, knocking out power to nearly 3 million homes and businesses, unleashing heavy rain and killing at least three people it moved east and later weakened to a tropical depression, the National Hurricane Center said Monday evening. The fast-moving tempest threatened to carve a harsh path over several more states in coming days.

Texas state and local officials warned it could take several days to restore power after Beryl came ashore as a Category 1 hurricane and toppled 10 transmission lines and knocked down trees that took down power lines.

Beryl later weakened into a tropical storm and then a tropical depression, far less powerful than the Category 5 behemoth that tore a deadly path of destruction through parts of Mexico and the Caribbean last weekend. But the winds and rains of the fast-moving storm were still powerful enough to knock down hundreds of trees that had already been teetering in water-saturated earth, and strand dozens of cars on flooded roadways.

As it moved inland, the storm threatened to spawn tornadoes and the National Weather Service confirmed on social media that tornadoes had been spotted in northeastern Louisiana. Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington said in a Facebook post that a woman was killed in the Benton area when a tree fell on her home.

“We’re not past any difficult conditions,” said Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is acting governor while Gov. Greg Abbott is out of the country, warning it would be a ”multiple day process to get power restored.”


Biden gets support from key lawmakers as he tells Democrats he won’t step aside after debate

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden stood firm Monday against calls for him to drop his reelection candidacy and called for an end to the intraparty drama that has torn apart Democrats since his dismal debate performance last month, as key lawmakers expressed support for him to remain in the 2024 presidential race.

As anxious congressional Democrats returned to Washington weighing whether to work to revive his campaign or to try to edge him out, Biden sent them an open letter aiming to silence their skepticism of his fitness to lead the country for another four years. He insisted he wasn’t leaving the race and stressed that the party has “one job,” which is to defeat presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in November.

After a week of false starts, a coordinated effort by Biden and his campaign to shore up Democratic support appeared to be paying off, though he had by no means silenced his doubters. By late Monday, a sudden rush of public support from Democrats emerged — or at least some tempering of criticism — as Biden allies appeared to be trying to overpower the public and private voices calling on him to step aside.

Biden wrote in the two-page letter that “the question of how to move forward has been well-aired for over a week now. And it’s time for it to end.”

“We have 42 days to the Democratic Convention and 119 days to the general election,” Biden said in the letter, distributed by his reelection campaign. “Any weakening of resolve or lack of clarity about the task ahead only helps Trump and hurts us. It’s time to come together, move forward as a unified party, and defeat Donald Trump.”


The White House faces many questions about Biden’s health and medical history. Here are some answers

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s terrible performance at the June 27 presidential debate has raised concerns about his age, health and ability to lead the federal government.

Administration officials have blamed his confused and at times indecipherable answers at the debate with Republican Donald Trump on a head cold, jet lag and poor preparation at Camp David. But at 81, Biden has found his health to be a key issue for many voters going into November’s election. Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Biden’s physician, issued his first comment since the debate late Monday, after White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre struggled to address questions about the president’s health at Monday’s news briefing.

Biden has extensive yearly physical exams, Jean-Pierre said. She added that most Americans don’t understand the extent of the medical care provided to the president, as many people are lucky if they get to see their doctors once or twice a year. By contrast, the president’s medical unit is “just steps down from the residence” at the White House. “A couple times a week,” Biden does a “verbal check-in with his doctor while he’s exercising,” Jean-Pierre said, adding that he had a check-in on Monday.

There has been confusion as to whether Biden saw his doctor about his cold after the presidential debate on June 27. The White House initially said there was no medical exam, but it later said there was a “short verbal check-in” and it was determined that no exam was needed.

“He has seen a neurologist three times,” said Jean-Pierre. “Not more than that.”


The plane is ready, the fundraisers are booked: Trump’s VP search comes down to its final days

NEW YORK (AP) — The future Republican vice presidential candidate’s plane is currently parked in an undisclosed hangar, an empty spot on its fuselage where a decal featuring his or her name will soon be placed.

Fundraisers have been planned.

All that’s left: an announcement from former President Donald Trump unveiling his pick.

Senior advisers and longtime allies insist they still don’t know whom the presumptive GOP nominee will choose to join him on the ticket — with many believing the name is still in flux.

“I haven’t made (a) final decision. But I have some ideas as to where we’re going,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity that aired Monday night.


Republicans move at Trump’s behest to change how they will oppose abortion

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Republican National Committee moved Monday to adopt a party platform that reflects former President Donald Trump’s position opposing a federal abortion ban and ceding limits to states, omitting the explicit basis for a national ban for the first time in 40 years.

Trump imposed his priorities on the RNC’s platform committee as he seeks to steer clear during his campaign of strict abortion language, even while taking credit for setting up the 2022 reversal of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court. Trump appointed three of the six justices who voted in the majority to overturn the 1973 precedent that established a national right to have an abortion.

The scaled-down platform — just 16 pages and with limited specifics on many key Republican issues — reflects a desire by the Trump campaign to avoid giving Democrats more material for their warnings about the former president’s intentions if he wins back the White House. President Joe Biden’s campaign has repeatedly highlighted the “Project 2025” document produced by Trump allies as well as Trump’s own promises to impose wide-ranging tariffs, replace thousands of government workers with party loyalists and stage the largest deportation operation in U.S. history.

The policy document sticks to the party’s longstanding principle that the Constitution extends rights to fetuses, but removes language maintaining support for an “amendment to the Constitution and legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth,” a passage in the party platform first included in 1984.

It asserts, “We believe that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees that no person can be denied life or liberty without due process.” The document also noted “that the states are, therefore, free to pass laws protecting those rights.”


Tourists still flock to Death Valley amid searing US heat wave blamed for several deaths

DEATH VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — Hundreds of Europeans touring the American West and adventurers from around the U.S. were still drawn to Death Valley National Park on Monday, even though the desolate region known as one of the Earth’s hottest places is being punished by a dangerous heat wave blamed for a motorcyclist’s death over the weekend.

French, Spanish, English and Swiss tourists left their air-conditioned rental cars and motorhomes to take photographs of the barren landscape so different than the snow-capped mountains and rolling green hills they know back home. American adventurers liked the novelty of it, even as officials at the park in California warned visitors to stay safe.

“I was excited it was going to be this hot,” said Drew Belt, a resident of Tupelo, Mississippi, who wanted to stop in Death Valley as the place boasting the lowest elevation in the U.S. on his way to climb California’s Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Kind of like walking on Mars.”

Park Superintendent Mike Reynolds cautioned visitors in a statement that “high heat like this can pose real threats to your health.”

The searing heat wave gripping large parts of the United States also led to record daily high temperatures in Oregon, where it is suspected to have caused four deaths in the Portland area. More than 146 million people around the U.S. were under heat alerts Monday, especially in Western states.


Women gradually rise in Japanese politics but face deep challenges

TOKYO (AP) — Eight years ago, Yuriko Koike became the first woman to lead Tokyo, beating her male predecessor. She won her third term as governor Sunday, and one of her closest rivals was a woman.

Multiple women competing for a top political office is still rare in Japan, which has a terrible global gender-equality ranking, but Koike’s win highlights a gradual rise in powerful female officials and a society more open to gender balance in politics. That said, even if a woman eventually becomes prime minister, politics here is still overwhelmingly dominated by men, and experts see a huge effort needed for equal representation.

“There are growing expectations for women to play a greater role in politics,” said parliamentarian Chinami Nishimura, a senior official with the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. “In politics or parliament, which are still largely considered men’s work, it is extremely meaningful for women to show their presence and have our voices heard.”

Nishimura, who also heads the opposition party’s gender-equality promotion team, hopes to have women make up 30% of her party’s candidates in the next national election. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party last year vowed to achieve 30% female representation within 10 years, and is working to recruit more female candidates.

Finding aspiring female candidates, however, isn’t easy. Women in Japan are still often expected to be in charge of childrearing, elderly care and other family responsibilities.


Here’s what to know about Boeing agreeing to plead guilty to fraud in 737 Max crashes

Boeing will have a felony conviction if it follows through on an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to fraud in connection with approval of its 737 Max before two of the planes crashed, killing 346 people off the coast of Indonesia and in Ethiopia.

The American aerospace giant has apparently made the calculation that admitting to a crime is better than fighting the charge and enduring a long public trial.

The plea deal is not yet a sure thing, however.

Relatives of some of the passengers who died have indicated they will ask a federal judge in Texas to throw out the agreement, which they say is too lenient considering the lives that were lost. They want a trial, they want a huge fine, and they want Boeing leaders to face charges.

In a legal filing late Sunday — minutes before a midnight deadline — the Justice Department disclosed the agreement and said the fraud charge was “the most serious readily provable offense” it could bring against Boeing. Prosecutors say Boeing will pay another $243.6 million fine, matching a fine it paid in 2021 for the same crime.


The far right seemed to have a lock on France’s legislative elections. Here’s why it didn’t win

PARIS (AP) — Seemingly so close, and yet still so far away.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen looked to be nearer to power than ever last week after her National Rally party, strengthened by new allies, triumphed in the opening round of legislative elections. Its first place wasn’t a hole-in- one but looked like an impressive position to possibly win or get close to an absolute parliamentary majority in the decisive runoff.

But what Le Pen hoped would be a watershed victory turned into another setback. Although her party won more National Assembly seats than ever, it yet again hit a wall of voters who don’t believe the National Rally should govern France or has shed its links to racism, antisemitism and the country’s still painful World War II past of collaboration with Nazi Germany.

“The tide is rising,” Le Pen said. “It did not rise high enough this time.”

This was by no means the first time that French voters and the far-right’s political rivals maneuvered strategically between voting rounds to block its path in a runoff.


Judge decides Alec Baldwin’s role as co-producer not relevant to trial over fatal 2021 set shooting

Alec Baldwin ’s role as a producer of the Western film “Rust” isn’t relevant to the involuntary manslaughter trial over a fatal shooting on set, a New Mexico judge decided Monday.

The move is a major setback for prosecutors just as trial was about to begin. They had planned to present evidence that showed how Baldwin bore a special responsibility — as co-producer, well beyond that of the actor holding the gun — for the dangerous environment that led to the deadly shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal.

“I’m having real difficulty with the state’s position that they want to show that as a producer he didn’t follow guidelines and therefore as an actor Mr. Baldwin did all of these things wrong that resulted in the death of Ms. Hutchins because as a producer he allowed these things to happen,” Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer said. “I’m denying evidence of his status as a producer.”

Special prosecutor Erlinda Ocampo Johnson argued unsuccessfully that Baldwin was “keenly aware” of his safety obligations as a producer, in an attempt to bolster an alternative theory of guilt beyond negligent use of a firearm. The prosecution has tried to link Baldwin’s behavior on set to “total disregard or indifference for the safety of others.”

In the courtroom Monday, Baldwin sat between lead attorneys Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro. He appeared to listen intently, taking occasional notes on a yellow legal pad and handing written messages to an attorney. Baldwin wore glasses and close-cropped hair.

The Associated Press


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