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

 Chaos swirling since Biden’s debate flub is causing cracks in a White House known for discipline WASHINGTON (AP) — Internal drama. Leaks. Second-guessing. The pressure and chaos swirling since Joe Biden’s disastrous debate performance is causing cracks in a White House that until now had been marked by discipline and loyalty. For three-plus years, the [[{“value”:”

Chaos swirling since Biden’s debate flub is causing cracks in a White House known for discipline

WASHINGTON (AP) — Internal drama. Leaks. Second-guessing. The pressure and chaos swirling since Joe Biden’s disastrous debate performance is causing cracks in a White House that until now had been marked by discipline and loyalty.

For three-plus years, the Biden administration has been mostly a restrained and staid operation, defined more by an insistence on showcasing policy and an avoidance of palace intrigue. Aides generally kept any criticism of their boss or their jobs out of the public eye. Not lately, though.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reflected Tuesday on the extraordinary moment for the president and his team, as questions about the 81-year-old’s age and mental capacity threaten to torpedo his reelection dreams. “It has been an unprecedented time,” she said of scrutiny of the president. “We are meeting a new moment that has never really existed before.”

Biden’s shaky June 27 debate performance has led to an unusually public blame game, leaks of private phone calls between the president and Democrats and questions about his son Hunter Biden’s presence at the White House. It has prompted current White House officials to anonymously vent their concerns about Biden’s ability to do the job and even led to the departure of a radio journalist after details emerged that the Biden campaign had fed her and another reporter interview questions.

Not to mention all the drama playing out on Capitol Hill, where a handful of House Democrats have publicly called for Biden to step aside and there is closed-door hand-wringing by others over whether to publicly come out against the president as party leaders try to bring members to heel.

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Trump revels in Democratic turmoil as he returns to campaign trail and teases VP pick

MIAMI (AP) — Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday reveled in the mounting turmoil surrounding President Joe Biden ’s campaign in the wake of their debate and teased the expected announcement of his Republican running mate with one of the top contenders, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, in attendance.

After days spent lying low, golfing and letting Democratic infighting play out in public, Trump used his return to the campaign trail in Florida to ratchet up his attacks on both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, indulging speculation that she could replace the president as the Democratic nominee this year and alleging, without evidence, that his son Hunter Biden is “running our government” and first lady Jill Biden “is helping.” Biden has repeatedly insisted he won’t withdraw from the race.

Trump rallied his supporters at one of his Miami-area golf courses as the presumptive Republican nominee nears a deadline to announce his running mate. But he appears in no rush, as much of the political world’s attention is still centered on questions about Biden’s ability to govern for another four-year term. Some Democrats have started calling for Biden to step down as their presumptive nominee following his dismal debate performance last month.

Trump, speaking from the 10th hole of his course, challenged Biden to another debate or even a “golf-off” reviving an offbeat argument from their debate. But mostly, he rubbed in how their meetup left Biden’s campaign facing a grim prognosis.

“Our victory was so absolute that Joe’s own party now wants him to throw in the towel and surrender the presidency after a single 90-minute performance,” Trump said Tuesday night. “They want ‘Crooked Joe’ out of the race. It’s a shame the way they’re treating him. But don’t feel sorry for him. He’s a very bad guy.”

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Zelenskyy says the world cannot wait until the US election in November to take action to repel Putin

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday that decisive action must be taken before the U.S. presidential election in November to repel Russia’s offensive against his country, using an address on the sidelines of the NATO summit to press for greater support during a pivotal but tumultuous stretch in America’s political calendar.

“It’s time to step out of the shadows to make strong decisions to act and not wait for November or any other months to descend. We must be strong and uncompromising all together,” Zelenskyy said.

Speaking in Washington four months before an election beset by new uncertainty following President Joe Biden’s shaky debate performance, he aimed his message at Republicans, whose NATO-adverse leader looks to be in an improving position to win back the presidency.

The president of the United States, Zelenskyy added, must be “uncompromising in defending democracy, uncompromising against (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and his coterie.”

Zelenskyy has proven to be an adept navigator of international relations in defense of his war-ravaged country, publicly cajoling and sometimes loudly complaining to get the military assistance it needs to defend itself against Russia.

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Airstrike kills 25 in southern Gaza as Israeli assault on Gaza City shuts down medical facilities

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — An apparent Israeli airstrike on a school-turned-shelter in southern Gaza killed at least 25 Palestinians on Tuesday, as heavy bombardment in the north forced the closure of medical facilities in Gaza City and sent thousands fleeing in search of increasingly elusive refuge.

Israel’s new ground assault in Gaza’s largest city is its latest effort to battle Hamas militants regrouping in areas the army previously said had been largely cleared.

Large parts of Gaza City and urban areas around it have been flattened or left a shattered landscape after nine months of fighting. Much of the population fled earlier in the war, but several hundred thousand Palestinians remain in the north.

“The fighting has been intense,” said Hakeem Abdel-Bar, who fled Gaza City’s Tuffah district to the home of relatives in another part of the city. He said Israeli warplanes and drones were “striking anything moving” and that tanks had moved into central districts.

The strike at the entrance to the school killed at least 25 people, according to an Associated Press reporter who counted the bodies at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. Hospital spokesperson Weam Fares said the dead included at least seven women and children and that the toll was likely to rise.

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Frustrations mount in the Houston heat after Beryl moves on and leaves millions without power

HOUSTON (AP) — The return of soaring heat in Houston on Tuesday deepened the misery for millions of people still without power after Hurricane Beryl crashed into Texas and left residents in search of places to cool off and fuel up as the extended outages strained one of the nation’s largest cities.

Frustration mounted that Houston appeared to buckle under a storm less powerful than previous ones. State officials faced questions over whether Houston’s power utility had sufficiently prepared, including one who said he would withhold judgement until after the lights are back on.

Hospitals also started to feel the pinch: Nearly 36 hours after Beryl made landfall, Texas’ lieutenant governor said a sports and event complex would be used to temporarily hold up to 250 patients who are awaiting discharge but cannot be released to homes with no power.

People coped as best they could.

“We can handle it, but not the kids,” said Walter Perez, 49, as he arrived early Tuesday at celebrity pastor Joel Osteen’s megachurch in Houston, which served as a cooling center and distributed 40-bottle packs of water.

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Jury is seated in Alec Baldwin’s involuntary manslaughter trial in New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Sixteen jurors were seated Tuesday for Alec Baldwin’s involuntary manslaughter trial in New Mexico, where opening statements are set to start Wednesday.

Five men and 11 women were chosen by Santa Fe County special prosecutors and the actor’s team of defense attorneys. Twelve will be designated as the jury and four as alternates by the court only after they hear the case.

They’ll be tasked with deciding whether Baldwin committed the felony when, during a rehearsal in October 2021, a revolver went off while he was pointing it at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza. They were on the set of the Western film “Rust,” at Bonanza Creek Ranch some 18 miles (29 kilometers) from where the trial is being held.

Media members were not allowed in the courtroom when attorneys used their challenges to strike jurors. Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer swore in the jury, told them to avoid news about the case and to report Wednesday morning.

Baldwin, 66, could get up to 18 months in prison if the jurors unanimously find him guilty.

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Vatican will prepare a document on the role of women in leadership in the Catholic Church

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican said Tuesday that its doctrine office will prepare a document on women in leadership roles in the Catholic Church, a new initiative to respond to longstanding demands by women to have a greater say in the church’s life.

The document will be written by the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith as its contribution to Pope Francis’ big church reform process, now entering its second main phase with a meeting of bishops in October, known as a synod.

The Vatican announced the details of the doctrinal document shortly after its news conference — led by four men — on the preparatory work for the October meeting, leaving journalists no chance to ask for more details about it.

A group pressing for women’s ordination promptly dismissed the significance of it as “crumbs,” noting that ordained men would once again be making decisions about women’s roles in the church.

The forthcoming document was announced in a list of the members of 10 “study groups” that are looking into some of the thorniest and legally complicated issues that have arisen in the reform process to date, including the role of women and LGBTQ+ Catholics in the life of the church.

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Milk, eggs and now bullets for sale in handful of US grocery stores with ammo vending machines

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A company has installed computerized vending machines to sell ammunition in grocery stores in Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas, allowing patrons to pick up bullets along with a gallon of milk.

American Rounds said their machines use an identification scanner and facial recognition software to verify the purchaser’s age and are as “quick and easy” to use as a computer tablet. But advocates worry that selling bullets out of vending machines will lead to more shootings in the U.S., where gun violence killed at least 33 people on Independence Day alone.

The company maintains the age-verification technology means that the transactions are as secure, or more secure, than online sales, which may not require the purchaser to submit proof of age, or at retail stores, where there is a risk of shoplifting.

“I’m very thankful for those who are taking the time to get to know us and not just making assumptions about what we’re about,” CEO Grant Magers said. “We are very pro-Second Amendment, but we are for responsible gun ownership, and we hope we’re improving the environment for the community.”

There have been 15 mass killings involving a firearm so far in 2024, compared to 39 in 2023, according to a database maintained in a partnership of The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.

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Messi’s 109th goal leads defending champion Argentina over Canada 2-0 and into Copa America final

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Lionel Messi scored his 109th international goal and first of the tournament, leading defending champion Argentina over Canada 2-0 on Tuesday night and into the Copa America final.

Julián Álvarez put the Albiceleste ahead in the 22nd minute and Messi redirected Enzo Fernández’s shot in off the face of goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau in the 51st. Messi has 28 goals in his last 25 matches for Argentina and 14 in Copa America play, three shy of the record.

Only Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo with 130 has more international goals than Messi, who turned 37 on June 24. Iran’s Al Daei had 108 or 109 from 1993 to 2006, with a lingering dispute over whether a goal against Ecuador in 2000 occurred in a full international match.

With a victory on its independence day, Argentina extended its unbeaten streak to 10 games. The Albiceleste seek a record 16th Copa title when they play Uruguay or Colombia on Sunday at Miami Gardens, Florida.

Trying to string together championships in consecutive Copa Americas around the 2022 World Cup championship, Argentina is trying to match the feat of Spain when La Roja won the 2008 and 2012 European Championships along with the 2010 World Cup.

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Spain beats France 2-1 to reach Euro 2024 final. Yamal sets the mark as youngest-ever scorer

MUNICH (AP) — After seeing off another one of the pre-tournament favorites to reach the Euro 2024 final, Spain coach Luis de la Fuente has warned England or the Netherlands that his team can still improve.

Spain reached the European Championship decider with a 2-1 victory over France on Tuesday, with 16-year-old Lamine Yamal becoming the youngest-ever scorer at the continental tournament.

France took an early lead when Randal Kolo Muani headed in a cross from Kylian Mbappé, who played without a mask, before Yamal’s moment of brilliance in the 21st minute. Dani Olmo scored the clincher four minutes later.

“We were in a difficult stretch after not expecting to concede so early. I just took the ball and wanted to put it right there. I am very happy,” Yamal said.

“I don’t try to think about it too much, just enjoy myself and help the team, and if it goes my way, then I am happy (for the goal) and for the win.”

The Associated Press

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