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French 'Excalibur' Sword Vanishes After 1,300 Years -- Literally Sword in Stone
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An ancient sword known as the French version of King Arthur’s legendary “Excalibur” has mysteriously vanished from the town where, according to local lore, it had remained lodged in a rock for 1,300 years.

The Durandal sword appears to have been taken by a thief from its stone in the tiny medieval town of Rocamadour, where it was one of the town’s main attractions, The Telegraph reported.

For centuries it’s been believed the sword once belonged to Roland, a semi-legendary knight who bravely fought for Charlemagne in the eighth century.

Officials in Rocamadour have launched an investigation into the disappearance of the sword, which was yanked from its spot in a cliff wall some 100 feet off the ground.

Durandal was an indestructible sword and the sharpest in the world, able to cut through stone with a single blow, according to the legend.

The sword’s magical qualities were described in the 11th-century epic poem “The Song of Roland.”

The poem, written in old French, is the oldest surviving major work of French literature, with the sole surviving copy stashed at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, according to the Telegraph.

Charlemagne received Durandal from an angel before he gifted it to his best soldier, according to the legend.

Roland, before his valiant death at the Battle of Roncevaux Pass, tried to break the sword on the rocks to prevent his enemies from taking it — but even he could not destroy the sword.

The knight threw the sword into the air, which then traveled hundreds of miles before landing in the cliff in Rocamadour, legend says.

The disappearance has devastated the locals.

”We’re going to miss Durandal. It’s been part of Rocamadour for centuries, and there’s not a guide who doesn’t point it out when he visits,” mayor Dominique Lenfant told La Dépêche, a French newspaper.

“Rocamadour feels it’s been robbed of a part of itself, but even if it’s a legend, the destinies of our village and this sword are entwined,” she added.

Police are trying to determine how someone could have scaled 100 feet of the sheer rock face to snatch the sword.

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Massive AT&T Hack Compromises Phone, Text Records of ‘Nearly All’ Customers

AT&T experienced a massive hack of user data for nearly all of its mobile phone customers in 2022, the company announced Friday.

The hack is one of the biggest private communications data breaches in recent history, per Bloomberg.

The stolen data includes “records of calls and texts of nearly all of AT&T’s cellular customers,” other customers using AT&T’s wireless network, and “At&T’s landline customers who interacted with those cellular numbers between May 1, 2022 – October 31, 2022,” AT&T said in a statement Friday.

The breach also included a data from a small portion of customers dating to early January 2023.

The company learned in April that hackers had successfully downloaded customer data from its third-party cloud service, per the statement.

The company initially disclosing the hack in a regulatory filing.

Hackers did not obtain the content of the calls or texts, users’ personal information, or the time stamps of the calls or texts, AT&T said.

However, while customer names were not leaked, it is possible they could be gleaned using other publicly available tools, the company warned.

The Federal Communications Commission said Friday that it has an “ongoing investigation into the AT&T breach” and is working with other law enforcement partners.

AT&T said it is working with law enforcement and has “taken steps to close off the illegal access point.”

“We understand that at least one person has been apprehended,” the company added.

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WATCH: Biden Calls Zelensky ‘Putin’ Then Refers to Vice-President ‘Trump’

Joe Biden has referred to Volodymyr Zelensky as “President Putin” and Kamala Harris as “Vice President Trump”, in a pair of significant gaffes set to worsen the crisis engulfing his presidency.

The US president, who is facing calls to stand down over concerns about his age, confused the Ukrainian president with the Russian leader on stage at an international summit.

He then referred to Ms Harris, his vice president, as “Vice President Trump”.

The gaffes came at the end of a Nato summit in Washington DC, which had been pitched as an opportunity to rescue Mr Biden’s ailing reelection campaign.

Standing on a stage with 23 other allied world leaders, Mr Biden spoke for several minutes about the importance of protecting Ukraine from Russian aggression, before turning to Mr Zelensky and introducing him by the wrong name.

“Now, I want to hand over to the President of Ukraine, who has as much courage as he has determination,” he said. “Ladies and gentlemen: President Putin.”

He returned to the microphone and attempted to explain the error. “I’m so focused on beating Putin,” he said.

“I’m better,” Mr Zelensky replied.

“You’re a hell of a lot better,” Mr Biden said back.

Watch:

Ninety minutes later, during a second press conference, Mr Biden was asked whether Kamala Harris was qualified to take over his job if necessary.

“I wouldn’t have picked Vice President Trump to be vice president, that I think she was not qualified to be president,” he replied.

Watch:

Donald Trump immediately seized on the moment, writing on social media: “Great job, Joe!”

Within minutes, the clips were being circulated online by official Republican Party accounts.

Mr Biden later defended his health, but said he must do more to “allay” concerns by appearing more often at public events.

The president’s advisers had been braced for the possibility of more errors on the world stage, after two weeks of criticism for his performance at the presidential debate on June 27.

The two slip-ups produced more calls for Mr Biden to end his campaign and make way for a younger candidate.

Jim Himes, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the Democrats must put forward the “strongest candidate possible” to beat Trump, and he “no longer believe[s] that is Joe Biden”.

Polls show that Mr Biden’s popularity has tanked since the debate. He is now behind Trump in almost all swing states, and some previously safe blue states are now “in play” in November.

Thursday’s incidents came as aides worked on a pitch to convince Mr Biden to stand down his presidential campaign, amid concerns he can “never recover” from questions raised about his age in the last two weeks.

Aides on the US president’s campaign and White House teams are working out how to persuade him to leave the race, after concluding that he has no chance of beating Trump.

Earlier this week, the Hollywood star and Democrat donor George Clooney called for Mr Biden to abandon his campaign, while the former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stopped short of defending his decision to remain in the race.

Mr Biden’s press conference at the end of the Nato summit was the first event of its kind for eight months.

The US president gave remarks and took questions from journalists for an hour, defending his record on the economy and foreign policy. He also addressed concerns about his age.

Insisting he would stay in the race, he said: “I’m not in this for my legacy. I’m in this to complete the job I started. I think I’m the best qualified person to do the job.”

He said he was “ready” to deal with Mr Putin and Xi Jinping “now, and three years from now”, when he will be 84 years old. He said the “gravity of the situation” required his experience in office.

But Mr Biden also acknowledged that he had dealt poorly with recent criticism from his own party, describing his errors on the debate stage two weeks ago as “stupid”.

“I’m determined on running, but I think it’s important that I allay fears by letting them see me out there,” he said.

Defending his health, he added: “My schedule has been full bore. So if I slow down and I can’t get the job done, that’s a sign that I shouldn’t be doing it, but there’s no indication of that yet — none.”

He denied a story that he intended to go to bed at 8pm every night, but said he thought it was important to “pace myself”.

“I love my staff, but they add things. They add things all the time. I’m catching hell from my wife,” he said.

Asked whether he would take a cognitive test, he replied: “I’ve taken three significant and intense neurological exams by a neurosurgeon, by a neurologist… as recently as February and they say I’m in good shape.”

“The only thing age does is it creates a little bit of wisdom if you pay attention”.

Mr Biden was asked repeatedly whether he planned to step down if polling data showed that Ms Harris would be more likely to beat Trump in the election.

He replied: “No, unless they came back and said, ‘there’s no way you can win’.”

Leaning into the microphone to whisper to the audience, he added: “No one is saying that. No poll says that.”

He had previously said that only “Lord Almighty” could convince him to step down.

Some Democrats praised Mr Biden for his performance in the latter half of the press conference, when he spoke in detail and without notes on US relations with China, South Korea and Russia.

David Axelrod, a former Barack Obama aide who has called for him to step down, said he was “very comfortable on national security issues”.

However, Mr Biden’s two gaffes in the final hours of the 75th anniversary Nato summit will overshadow three days of intense diplomacy by its member states, as discussion turns to the future of his campaign.

Sir Keir Starmer waved away Mr Biden’s confusion between Mr Zelensky and Mr Putin in his own press conference, arguing that the US president “should be given credit” for the summit.

Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, said that “slips of tongue happen”, while Emmanuel Macron, the French president, said Mr Biden was “in charge” and on top of matters.

Mr Biden repeatedly referred to other Nato leaders while defending his record.

He said this week’s Nato summit had been the most successful “for a long time”, and that attendees thanked him for bringing them together.

“I know it sounds self-serving, but other leaders and heads of state have thanked me, saying: ‘The reason we’re together is because of Biden’,” he said.

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Obama, Pelosi Have Spoken Privately About Biden

Former President Barack Obama and ex-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke privately this week about their growing concerns for President Biden’s 2024 re-election campaign — as a growing number of “very connected Democrats” plot to get him to drop out quickly, according to reports.

Obama and Pelosi are said to have discussed how much harder they think it has become for the embattled 81-year-old president to beat his GOP rival, former President Donald Trump, but neither is sure what to do, sources told CNN.

A slew of Democrats have also been begging Obama and Pelosi behind the scenes to help quickly end the turmoil before even more damage is done just four months before the election, the sources added.

Biden has rejected mounting calls for him to give up his candidacy in the wake of his train-wreck first presidential debate against Trump on June 27.

Those cries will likely only get louder following his error-laden “big boy” press conference Thursday night, which had only been called to try to dispel the Democratic clamor for Biden to step aside.

“They are watching and waiting for President Biden to reach a decision on his own,” a longtime Democrat close to Obama, Pelosi and Biden told CNN.

Meanwhile, other sources told Axios that high-powered Democrats — mostly veterans of the Obama and Clinton administrations — have been plotting on an hourly basis on how best to get Biden to drop out.

The group, which the outlet dubbed the “unofficial Committee to Unelect the President,” has apparently been firing off a barrage of texts and emails, commissioning polls and organizing donors in a bid to get rid of him.

Instead of squeezing a defiant Biden and his family, the Dems in question have been trying to pressure the likes of Obama, Pelosi, the Clintons, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), according to the sources.

Obama’s team wouldn’t comment on the reports about his private discussions, while Pelosi’s suggested no one could have such insight.

“There is no member of Congress who would have any knowledge of any conversation that Speaker Pelosi would have with President Obama,” a Pelosi spokesperson said. “Anyone who says they do is not speaking the truth.”

The developments came just hours after Biden spoke in a raspy voice, frequently paused to cough and repeatedly lost his train of thought during his closely watched press conference in Washington on Thursday night.

He ended up calling Vice President Kamala Harris “Vice President Trump” — sparking immediate ridicule from his predecessor and 2024 GOP rival on social media.

“Crooked Joe begins his ‘Big Boy’ Press Conference with, ‘I wouldn’t have picked Vice President Trump to be vice president, though I think she was not qualified to be president.’ Great job, Joe!” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform.

The gaffe came soon after he introduced Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as “President [Vladimir] Putin” — confusing him with the Russian tyrant whose forces have waged war on Ukraine for two and a half years.

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Dem Congresswoman Calls on Biden to Resign

Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-WA) became the first Democrat on Capitol Hill to call on President Joe Biden to not only drop out of the presidential race, but to resign from office on Thursday.

“I’ve spent the past two weeks listening to my constituents express their concerns about the President’s age and health. Like most people I represent in Southwest Washington, I doubt the President’s judgement about his health, his fitness to do the job, and whether he is the one making important decisions about our country, rather than unelected advisors,” said Gluesenkamp Perez in a statement.

“Americans deserve to feel their president is fit enough to do the job. The crisis of confidence in the President’s leadership needs to come to an end. The President should do what he knows is right for the country and put the national interest first.”

A number of Gluesenkamp Perez’s colleagues have suggested that Biden should step aside and allow someone else to top the Democratic ticket this November, but she is the first of them to also argue that he should resign.

Earlier this month, the first-term congresswoman observed that “about 50 million Americans tuned in and watched that debate. I was one of them for about five very painful minutes.”

“We all saw what we saw, you can’t undo that, and the truth I think, is that Biden is going to lose to Trump,” she added. “I know that’s difficult, but I think the damage has been done by that debate.”

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‘Gay Furry Hackers’ Attack Heritage Foundation, Release Sensitive Project 2025 Data

An established cybercrime group with a track record of attacking political targets posted on Tuesday roughly two gigabytes of data from the Heritage Foundation, a prominent conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C.

Self-described “gay furry hackers,” SiegedSec said it released the data in response to Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025, a set of proposals that aim to give Donald Trump a set of ready-made policies to implement if he wins this fall’s election. Its authors describe it as an initiative “to lay the groundwork for a White House more friendly to the right.”

The data, reviewed by CyberScoop, includes Heritage Foundation blogs and material related to The Daily Signal, a right-wing media site affiliated with Heritage. The data was created between 2007 and November 2022.

The group says it gained access to the data on July 2 and released it to provide “transparency to the public regarding who exactly is supporting heritage (sic),” a spokesperson for the group who goes by the online handle “vio” told CyberScoop in an online chat Tuesday.

The data includes the “full names, email addresses, passwords, and usernames” of people associating with Heritage, vio said, including users with U.S. government email addresses. “This itself can have an impact to heritage’s (sic) reputation,” they added, “and it’ll especially push away users in positions of power.”

A Heritage spokesperson told CyberScoop after publication that the organization was not “hacked.” Instead, the spokesperson said “an organized group stumbled upon a two-year-old archive of The Daily Signal website that was available on a public-facing website owned by a contractor. The information obtained was limited to usernames, names, email addresses, and incomplete password information of both Heritage and non-Heritage contributors, as well as article comments and the IP address of the commentor.”

No Heritage systems were breached at any time, the spokesperson said, and the story of a hack “is a false narrative and an exaggeration by a group of criminal trolls trying to get attention.”

SiegedSec also claimed to be in possession of more than 200 gigabytes of additional “mostly useless” data, which the group said won’t be released.

The attack was carried out as part of SiegedSec’s “OpTransRights,” campaign, which has previously included the defacement of government websites and data theft from states either considering or implementing anti-abortion or anti-trans legislation.

The Heritage Foundation did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. The attack marks the second suffered by Heritage this year. In April, a Heritage official told Politico that the think tank had shut down its network in response to a breach by a nation-state hacking group.

Democrats have sought to tie Trump to Project 2025 proposals as an example of what to expect from his second term. Heritage President Kevin Roberts made news last week when he said the American right was “in the process of the second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless if the left allows it to be.”

SiegedSec, which emerged on Telegram in April 2022, has also targeted various NATO portals, the city of Fort Worth and a company involved in the monitoring of offshore oil and gas facilities.

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Trump Asks Judge to Dismiss Hush-Money Conviction, Citing SCOTUS Immunity Ruling

Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers asked New York Judge Juan Merchan on Thursday to toss out the guilty verdict in his hush money case after the Supreme Court ruled on the existence of presidential immunity.

The Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 opinion on July 1 that presidents have presidential immunity for some “official acts,” but not unofficial ones. However, the high court has not specified what constitutes official versus unofficial acts.

Trump was convicted by a Manhattan jury on 34 counts of falsifying business records in May, and was expected to be sentenced on Thursday.

However, Merchan allowed a delay last week for Trump’s team to consider how the Supreme Court ruling could impact his case, according to NBC News.

The sentencing is now scheduled for September.

Trump’s attorneys Todd Blanche and Emil Bove argued in the 52-page motion that the trial was “tainted” by evidence and testimony that is now protected under presidential immunity.

“Because of the implications for the institution of the Presidency, the use of official-acts evidence was a structural error under the federal Constitution that tainted [the District Attorney’s] grand jury proceedings as well as the trial,” the lawyers wrote, per ABC News.

The attorneys said testimony from former White House aides, and other evidence related to “official acts,” was used to fill “glaring holes” in the prosecution’s case.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has until July 24 to respond to the motion.

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Lauren Boebert Given Court Date for Failing to Pay Speeding Ticket

House Republican Lauren Boebert was ordered to attend Eagle County District Court in Colorado after failing to pay a $174.50 speeding ticket in time, according to a Denver publication.

Westword reported that Boebert was clocked going 84 miles per hour in a 65-miles-per-hour zone by the Colorado State Patrol on May 12 and instructed to pay a $174.50 fine. She was then ordered to attend Eagle County District Court on July 26 after the ticket wasn’t paid off within the requisite 20-day deadline, said the outlet. She has since accepted a standard plea deal.

In June, Boebert won the Republican primary to stand for the party in Colorado’s 4th congressional district this November with 43.6 percent of the vote, against 14.2 percent for her nearest rival. Boebert currently represents Colorado’s 3rd congressional district, which she only narrowly held in November 2022. She announced her switch to the more conservative 4th district in December 2023.

Following her primary victory, Boebert was called a “carpetbagging canoodler” in an article in The Colorado Sun by opinion columnist Mike Littwin, who said that with that win, she “definitely confirmed fears that whatever she does, whatever outrages she commits, whatever theater decorum she violates, whatever norm she offends, the MAGA base remains all in.”

Since first entering the House in January 2021 Boebert has emerged as one of the most outspoken supporters in Congress of Donald Trump, the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential candidate.

Speaking to Westword, the clerk at Eagle County District Court said: “Tickets that aren’t paid to the state before their twenty-day deadline, they’ll get sent to the court.

“Her case got forwarded to the court, we opened a case, and she took a standard plea offer.”

According to the clerk, Boebert contacted Eagle County District Court on July 3 to pay off her ticket after learning she had a court appearance booked due to her failure to pay within 20 days.

According to police cited by Westword, Boebert was caught on the morning of May 12, Mother’s Day, on Interstate 70 near mile marker 189 in a black Mazda CX-50.

A Colorado State Patrol public information officer told Westword Boebert was caught traveling at 84 miles per hour in a zone that had a 65-mile-per-hour speed limit.

Speaking to the publication, Boebert’s press secretary said the House Republican attempted to pay her ticket by sending a check to the Department of Revenue. After being told on July 3 that payment hadn’t been received, she then sent over the money online.

On Thursday, Boebert was criticized, especially online, for linking concern over 81-year-old President Joe Biden’s age and mental capacities to the COVID-19 vaccine in a post on X. The Colorado Republican shared four photographs of Biden receiving the vaccine and booster shots, writing: “I wonder what could have caused Joe Biden’s rapid physical and cognitive decline?” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the vaccines are “safe and effective” in preventing the spread of the virus.

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San Francisco’s New Plan to Fight Crime: Force Businesses to Close

San Francisco has discovered a new way to “solve” crime: Force businesses to close.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has unanimously decided to forcibly close retail food and tobacco businesses, not including restaurants and bars, from midnight to 5 a.m. in a designated “high-crime area” in the Tenderloin neighborhood.

This is a two-year “pilot” plan in response to the “high rate of drug-related crime in the Tenderloin.”

The Tenderloin Housing Clinic supported this decision, with its director of community organizing blaming businesses for “feeding into this ecosystem.”

Evidently, it is the fault of these businesses for allowing drug-addicted homeless people and criminals to wreak havoc in the neighborhood, not the fault of the district attorney, law enforcement, or the Board of Supervisors for allowing these conditions in the first place.

This is made all the more bizarre by the fact that the city had previously authorized a “safe” drug consumption center in the Tenderloin district.

San Francisco had given the green light to allow drug addicts to shoot up whenever they wanted, a move that predictably backfired as the neighborhood became less safe and less sanitary, made worse by the city’s refusal to prosecute them or just about any other criminals. Now, the blame is falling on businesses that are being forced to close by a city that created this problem in the first place.

San Francisco’s continued unwillingness to actually address its problems and instead punt the blame elsewhere continues to take a toll on people and businesses who have nothing to do with the problem.

Forcibly closing businesses in the early morning hours isn’t going to make criminals less criminal or drug addicts less drug-addicted. All it is going to do is further hamstring businesses that are also paying the price for the crime that the city has allowed to fester.

If closing businesses solved crime, San Francisco would be paradise, given how many businesses have closed permanently and moved out rather than deal with the city’s soft, incompetent leadership. San Francisco is a city run by people who have no clue how to keep a city functioning, and residents are going to feel the effects up until the point that they join others in moving out.

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NYT: Biden Campaign Conducts Secret Polling with Kamala as President

Under siege from fellow Democrats, President Biden’s campaign is quietly testing the strength of Vice President Kamala Harris against former President Donald J. Trump in a head-to-head survey of voters, as Mr. Biden fights for his political future with a high-stakes news conference on Thursday.

The survey, which is being conducted this week and was commissioned by the Biden campaign’s analytics team, is believed to be the first time since the debate that Mr. Biden’s aides have sought to measure how the vice president would fare at the top of the ticket. It was described by three people who are informed about it and insisted on anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information. They did not specify why the survey was being conducted or what the campaign planned to do with the results.

The effort, which comes as a growing number of prominent lawmakers call for Mr. Biden to step aside or suggest he should reconsider his plans to run, indicates that his campaign may be preparing to wade into a debate that has consumed the Democratic Party behind closed doors: whether Mr. Biden should step aside for his vice president.

While some of Mr. Biden’s top aides have quietly argued that Ms. Harris could not win the election, donors and other outside supporters of the vice president believe she might be in a stronger position after the debate, and could be a more energetic communicator of the party’s message.

In memo to campaign staff on Thursday, Mr. Biden’s campaign chair, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, and his campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, wrote about the “path ahead.”

“In addition to what we believe is a clear pathway ahead for us, there is also no indication that anyone else would outperform the president vs. Trump,” they wrote. “Hypothetical polling of alternative nominees will always be unreliable, and surveys do not take into account the negative media environment that any Democratic nominee will encounter. The only Democratic candidate for whom this is already baked in is President Biden.”

The memo also appeared to acknowledge an erosion of Mr. Biden’s support.

“The movement we have seen, while real, is not a sea-change in the state of the race,” the memo says.
As the White House and the Biden campaign try to project a unified front, some of their supporters are engaged in a tough assessment of who should top the ticket.

Mr. Biden’s political future will be determined in part by his performance during Thursday’s news conference at the NATO summit in Washington at 6:30 p.m., which party lawmakers, officials and donors have said they will closely monitor. It will be his longest unscripted appearance since the faltering debate performance two weeks ago.

Ahead of the news conference, Mr. Biden is dispatching some of his top aides — Steve Ricchetti, Mike Donilon and Ms. O’Malley Dillon are expected to go — to Capitol Hill to settle nervous Democratic senators who have begun to break ranks. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado has predicted that Mr. Biden will lose and deeply damage Democrats in down-ballot races. And Senator Peter Welch of Vermont on Wednesday evening became the first senator to explicitly call for Mr. Biden to drop out.

Much of the attention is on Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, who has said publicly that he is “with Joe” but who has signaled privately, Axios reported on Wednesday, that he is open to a ticket not led by Mr. Biden. In a statement provided after that article published, Mr. Schumer said, “As I have made clear repeatedly publicly and privately, I support President Biden and remain committed to ensuring Donald Trump is defeated in November.”

One person who spoke directly with Mr. Schumer last weekend, who discussed the conversation on the condition of anonymity to protect the relationship, said that the majority leader was looking for a way to find a different candidate while being mindful of Mr. Biden.

So far, much of the discontent has been voiced in similarly private and vague ways. The Democracy Alliance, a powerful network of major liberal donors, released a memo to members on Thursday morning stressing its commitment to funding House races in what Pamela Shifman, the president of the group, framed as a “challenging moment.” The memo made no direct mention of Mr. Biden, other than alluding to the fact that he could lose.

“The House is a bulwark against authoritarianism and our insurance policy against Project 2025,” Ms. Shifman wrote, referring to the far-reaching policy plans by Trump allies. “We can’t be caught flat-footed like we were eight years ago. After 2016, it would be malpractice for us not to have a plan in place for if the worst happens.”

The president’s team had felt bullish earlier in the week after a hard push on Monday to silence his Democratic critics, which included an open letter to Congress, a cable news call-in, a presidential appearance on a top donor call and a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus.

But any progress in moving past the debate was undone early on Wednesday when former Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Mr. Biden still had a decision to make about whether or not he was running — nearly a week after he told Democratic governors and the ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos that he was staying in the race.

Ms. Pelosi delivered her message — implying that Mr. Biden should reconsider his candidacy without explicitly saying so — on “Morning Joe,” the MSNBC show Mr. Biden often wakes up to watch. It was the same program to which the president had phoned in for an interview on Monday to declare that he was committed to running.

Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Schumer and Representative Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic leader in the House, are seen as three of the most influential figures in the debate over whether Mr. Biden should step aside.

The question of what might come afterward if he does drop out has convulsed the Democratic Party and shaped the conversation about what to do. Many in the party have doubted Ms. Harris’s ability to unite a sufficiently broad coalition to defeat Mr. Trump in November.

While the Biden campaign is littered with aides panicked about Mr. Biden’s political standing, the president has been sanguine in his discussions with donors and Democratic elected officials, blaming the party and news media “elites” for the anxiety.

Since the debate, Mr. Biden’s innermost circle has shrunk to his family and a very small group of his closest aides, effectively cocooning the president. It is not clear how much Mr. Biden has been informed about how his standing has dropped among Democrats.

Ms. Harris has been careful to demonstrate complete loyalty to Mr. Biden’s bid. But outside supporters of her candidacy have been quietly and carefully floating the idea that she might be a stronger contender against Mr. Trump — with some even going so far as to suggest potential running mates for the vice president.

This week, strategists and donors who were supportive of Ms. Harris circulated a presentation of polling assessing her strength with younger voters and showing that two out of three Democratic voters in battleground states supported the idea of Ms. Harris as the nominee in a scenario where Mr. Biden dropped out.

Some of Mr. Biden’s aides have been privately skeptical of Ms. Harris’s ability to win the election.

Shortly after the debate, Mr. Biden’s campaign chair, Ms. O’Malley Dillon, and his White House chief of staff, Jeff Zients, met with a group of anti-Trump Republicans at a hotel near the White House. The meeting had been planned weeks before the debate, but the two Biden advisers found themselves fielding pleas from some in the room that Mr. Biden drop out after his poor showing onstage. Mr. Biden’s advisers said the conversation was a nonstarter.

When some of the Republicans suggested that Democrats had a number of other options among the party’s governors, Ms. O’Malley Dillon said that the options were either Mr. Biden or, if he were to drop out, Ms. Harris, and indicated that the discussion was a waste of time, according to one person briefed on what was said.

“Jen was clear: The 2024 ticket is President Biden and Vice President Harris,” said Kevin Munoz, a Biden campaign spokesman.

Another person who was briefed on the meeting, and who recounted the discussion about Ms. Harris, said the implication some took was that the Biden advisers did not think she would fare any better than the president.

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NBC: Biden Replacement Momentum Is Heating Up. Campaign Insiders Say He Has No Chance of Winning.

Several of President Joe Biden’s closest allies, including three people who are directly involved in efforts to re-elect him, told NBC News they now see his chances of winning as zero — and the likelihood of him taking down fellow Democratic candidates growing.

“He needs to drop out,” one Biden campaign official said. “He will never recover from this.”

For two weeks, Biden has struggled to stabilize his campaign following a late-June debate debacle. His ongoing clean-up effort, which is scheduled to include top aides meeting privately with Democratic senators and a presidential news conference Thursday, has done little to reassure lawmakers and party officials.

Instead, the reverse is happening.

The set of Democrats who think he should reconsider his decision to stay in the race has grown to include aides, operatives and officials tasked with guiding his campaign to victory. Those who spoke to NBC News said the sentiment that he should exit and leave the Democratic nomination to someone else — most likely Vice President Kamala Harris — is widespread even within the ranks of the campaign and the outside Democratic entities supporting it.

“No one involved in the effort thinks he has a path,” said a second person working to elect him.

A third person close to the re-election campaign said the present situation — the questions swirling around Biden’s cognitive abilities, the dearth of fundraising and more polls showing Biden dropping in support and other candidates faring better — is unsustainable. This person also said they didn’t see how the campaign could win.

All of them spoke on the condition of anonymity because they don’t want to be seen as further damaging a candidate they appreciate for his victory over then-President Donald Trump in 2020 and his policy wins in the White House. But two others close to Biden told NBC News that while they haven’t given up all hope of a turnaround, they see that as an increasingly unlikely outcome. And they believe the goal of defeating Trump in November should take precedence over backing Biden.

“The question for me, and a lot of us, is: Who is the best person to beat Donald Trump?” another person working to elect Biden said. “There are a lot of us that are true blue that are questioning our initial thoughts on that.”

“Patently false,” Biden campaign spokesman TJ Ducklo said. “This team stands with the president.”

Ultimately, the decision rests with Biden on whether he stays in, and the president has been insistent this week that he’s not going anywhere. But these sources say that Biden is done — whether he drops out before November or loses to Trump on Election Day.

Hours after NBC News asked Biden aides about that conclusion, campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon and campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez sent a memo to staff Thursday outlining why they believe the president can still win.

“Our internal data and public polling show the same thing: this remains a margin-of-error race in key battleground states,” they wrote. “The movement we have seen, while real, is not a sea-change in the state of the race — while some of this movement was from undecided voters to Trump, much of the movement was driven by historically Democratic constituencies moving to undecided.”

O’Malley Dillon and Chavez Rodriguez said they still view Georgia and Arizona — states Biden won in 2020 but where he trails in polling now — as winnable, along with the Rust Belt states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

“No one is denying that the debate was a setback,” they wrote. “But Joe Biden and this campaign have made it through setbacks before. We are clear eyed about what we need to do to win. And we will win by moving forward, unified as a party, so that every single day between now and election day we focus on defeating Donald Trump.”

Biden defenders have pointed to a 538 forecast of the fall election that shows the president’s chances of winning have barely moved post-debate, remaining at a 48-in-100 chance of winning. In the 538 average, Biden trailed Trump by 2.1%.

But Democrats this week have watched shifts in other surveys that have set off alarms, including an AARP poll showing Biden trailing in Wisconsin, which had been his best battleground state.

“That’s the bright shining data point,” a longtime Democratic presidential campaign strategist said. “We have this window and the White House is just running out the clock, which is so selfish. We’re all waiting around for Joe Biden to f— up again, which is not a great position to be in.”

NBC News reported Wednesday that fundraising for the campaign is drying up as major Democratic donors and grassroots contributors are closing their wallets. At the same time, Trump, who is due to accept the Republican nomination next week, has been raking in cash.

The concern for many Democrats is that Biden will not only lose but perform so poorly that he acts as an anchor on down-ballot candidates.

“I worry that the symbol of our party is the person who’s running for president and that that does absolutely trickle down to the down ballot races,” said one state party chair who wants Biden to abandon his campaign.

The Biden campaign has started to quietly assess the viability of Harris’ candidacy against Trump in a new head-to-head poll, a source familiar with the decision told NBC News.

This person said it’s being done in the context of the Republican presumptive nominee “stepping up” his attacks against her, like he did at a recent Florida rally. The survey will take place this week and was commissioned by the Biden campaign’s analytics team, as The New York Times first reported.

Separately, a Democratic operative pointed out that testing Harris’ standing against Trump would be instructive in showing Biden whether she may fare better, worse than — or the same as — he does in current polling and that may be one reason to do it now.

But as more Democrats come to the conclusion that Biden can’t win — and shouldn’t try — his innermost circle has tightened to the point that it includes only family members and a couple of longtime advisers, according to two people familiar with deliberations about the future of the campaign.

The combination of Biden floundering publicly and relying on an increasingly insular set of advisers privately has damaged Democratic insiders’ confidence in his ability to make the best decisions for himself, the party and the country.

One Democratic lawmaker close to Biden said that while he will “never publicly disavow” the president, he believes that bowing out would be “the right thing for himself and the country.”

This lawmaker argued that Biden still has a chance of beating Trump. Yet he said Biden’s legacy would be “completely ruined” if he ends up losing and dragging down Democratic candidates. Public calls for Biden to exit the race, this lawmaker said, are “counterproductive” because they make the president more likely to fight back.

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‘Morning Joe’ Hosts: Obama Working Behind the Scenes to Undermine Biden

Former President Barack Obama is “working behind the scenes” to undermine President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign, Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough said Thursday morning.

Democrats remain divided after Biden’s shaky debate performance against former President Donald Trump last month. Some prominent Democrats, including several of Biden’s colleagues on Capitol Hill, have called for the president to drop out of the presidential race and allow another Democrat to run for the party’s nomination.

Biden has repeatedly vowed to stay in the race, telling ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an interview released last week that he will drop out only if God tells him to.

On Thursday’s show, Scarborough and his co-host and wife, Mika Brzezinski, implied that Obama encouraged actor George Clooney to write his recent New York Times op-ed calling for Biden to step down from his campaign.

“Are you saying that Barack Obama put him up to this?” Scarborough asked Brzezinski.

“I think that Barack Obama has a lot of influence, and I think that there’s a lot there,” Brzezinski responded.

“I will say the one thing that we do have to underline here, just so viewers can follow what’s going on behind the scenes, is the Biden campaign and many Democratic officials do believe that Barack Obama is quietly working behind the scenes to orchestrate this,” Scarborough said later in the show.

“And if Joe Biden believes that, that’s not going to get him out of the race any faster.”

Their comments come as Politico reported that Clooney, a Democratic donor who has been a face of Biden’s fundraising efforts, gave Obama a heads-up before the op-ed, “George Clooney: I Love Joe Biden. But We Need a New Nominee,” was published.

According to people familiar with the conversation, Obama did not encourage or advise Clooney to write the op-ed, but he also didn’t object to it.

Obama has been a vocal supporter of Biden’s reelection campaign, at least in the public eye, and a vital part of the president’s fundraising efforts. Obama defended his former vice president’s weak showing on the debate stage, saying, “Bad debate nights happen. Trust me, I know.”

Speaking on the relationship between Biden and Democratic officials, Scarborough said on Thursday’s episode of Morning Joe, “Joe Biden is deeply resentful of his treatment under not only the Obama staff but also the way he was pushed aside for Hillary Clinton [in the 2016 election]. He’s deeply resentful of those trying to shove him out of the way. He’s always felt like an outsider. Always felt like people have looked down upon him.”

Biden is reportedly a loyal Morning Joe viewer and has a close relationship with Scarborough and Brzezinski.

The president called into the program on Monday to reiterate that he would not be quitting the 2024 race, saying that losing to former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, is “not an option.”

“I haven’t lost. I beat him last time. I’ll beat him this time,” Biden said.

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Milwaukee Radio Station Admits It Agreed to Edit Interview with Biden

Civic Media, a Wisconsin-based progressive talk-radio network, said Thursday it had agreed to make two edits to an interview with President Joe Biden at the request of his campaign before the broadcast aired, a decision the station said fell short of “journalistic interview standards.”

Still, the station said, it stands by its popular host Earl Ingram, who conducted the interview with Biden following the June 27 televised debate with rival Republican Donald Trump during which the president lost his train of thought and at times made nonsensical statements. Ingram’s interview was recorded on July 3 and aired on July 4.

“On Monday, July 8th, it was reported to Civic Media management that immediately after the phone interview was recorded, the Biden campaign called and asked for two edits to the recording before it aired. Civic Media management immediately undertook an investigation and determined that the production team at the time viewed the edits as non-substantive and broadcast and published the interview with two short segments removed,” the station said in a statement released on Thursday.

The station said it would make the full, unedited interview available online.

The two edits, according to the station, were:

  1. At time 5:20, the removal of “…and in addition to that, I have more Blacks in my administration than any other president, all other presidents combined, and in major positions, cabinet positions.”
  2. At time 14:15, in reference to Donald Trump’s call for the death penalty for the Central Park Five, the removal of “I don’t know if they even call for their hanging or not, but he–but they said […] convicted of murder.”

“With a high-profile interview comes a listener expectation that journalistic interview standards will be applied, even for non-news programming. We did not meet those expectations. Civic Media disagrees with the team’s judgments in the moment, both with respect to the handling of the interview questions and the decision to edit the interview audio,” the statement read.

According to the statement, Civic Media has clarified its policies “particularly for commentators and other non-news personnel.”

“Civic Media unequivocally stands by Earl Ingram and his team,” the statement read. “Earl is an invaluable voice for Milwaukee and Wisconsin, and remains a crucial member of the Civic Media organization. The decision to make the requested edits to the interview was made in good faith. While we disagree with the decision, we stand by our team. This has been a learning experience and we will do better moving forward.”

Ingram, a longtime Biden supporter, told ABC News last weekend, “Yes, I was given some questions for Biden.” Ingram has not responded to questions from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

A source familiar with the Biden campaign booking operation told the Journal Sentinel last weekend the campaign will no longer offer suggested questions.

“While interview hosts have always been free to ask whatever questions they please, moving forward we will refrain from offering suggested questions,” the source said.

Andrea Lawful-Sanders of WURD in Philadelphia, the second host to interview Biden following the debate, said she did not feel pressured to ask any specific questions. WURD Radio announced Sunday it has “mutually agreed to part ways” with Lawful-Sanders.

The interviews were scheduled in an effort to reassure voters of the president’s abilities. But the revelation that both hosts were given questions ahead of time has raised doubts about the confidence the president has in navigating unscripted conversations.

Ingram, who did not mention the pre-written questions during an earlier interview with the Journal Sentinel, told ABC News he was given five questions and asked four of them.

“I didn’t get a chance to ask him all the things I wanted to ask,” he told ABC News last weekend.

Lauren Hitt, spokeswoman for Biden, said it’s not uncommon for interview subjects “to share topics they would prefer.”

“These questions were relevant to the news of the day — the president was asked about this debate performance as well as what he’d delivered for Black Americans,” Hitt said. “We do not condition interviews on acceptance of these questions, and hosts are always free to ask the questions they think will best inform their listeners.”

“In addition to these interviews, the President also participated in a press gaggle (Friday) as well as an interview with ABC. Americans have had several opportunities to see him unscripted since the debate,” she added.

The campaign also noted host Geno Jones, who interviewed Biden in June, and actor and comedian D.L. Hughley, who interviewed Biden in May, said they were not given questions in advance of conversations with the president.

Ingram told ABC News he didn’t have concerns with the practice.

“To think that I was gonna get an opportunity to ask any question to the President of the United States, I think, is a bit more than anybody should expect,” he said. “Certainly the fact that they gave me this opportunity … meant a lot to me.”

In the pre-recorded interview with Ingram that aired Thursday, Biden said he “had a bad night” during the debate.

“And the fact of the matter is that I screwed up. I made a mistake,” he told Ingram.

Biden, during the 18-minute interview that aired on WAUK-AM, said he was “proud to be running for reelection as a president that has made his promises — and I’ve kept them.”

The 81-year-old president visited Madison last Friday, defiantly declaring he would stay in the race and pledging to defeat Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. He closed his rally with Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” just before taping a primetime interview with ABC that was organized to help overturn public fears of a lagging mental acuity.

Ahead of the rally, a group of local reporters were assembled to accompany the president’s motorcade from the Dane County Regional Airport to the rally event and elsewhere. But the campaign scuttled the plan while reporters were waiting at the airport without explanation. A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter was unable to cover Friday’s rally because of the situation.

Trump recently canceled an interview with a news outlet after learning what questions the reporter planned to ask. He also previously agreed to an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel during which he did not receive topics or questions ahead of time.

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Watch Live: Biden’s ‘Big Boy’ Press Conference

Watch Live:

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House Fails to Pass Attempt to Fine AG Garland $10,000 a Day

The House on Thursday failed to pass a measure to fine Attorney General Merrick Garland for being in contempt of Congress.

Four Republicans in the GOP-controlled House helped stop the effort, according to Politico. The measure failed in a 204-210 vote. There were Republican lawmakers that were absent.

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., forced the effort to hold Garland in “inherent contempt” on Wednesday.

Luna described this as a way to show how serious Congress is about compliance from cabinet officials.

The measure would have required Garland to pay fines of $10,000 per day until he released the audio of President Joe Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur.

On Wednesday, Democrats attempted to squash Luna’s resolution, but it failed.

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Elon Musk’s Neuralink Prepares Second Human Trial, Aims ‘Superpower’ Capabilities

Neuralink plans to implant its device into a second human patient in about a week, according to the company’s founder, Elon Musk. During a broadcast on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter), Musk shared that the company aims to have ‘high single digits’ of patients with the device by the end of the year.

He and several Neuralink executives discussed the brain chip’s capabilities and future potential, such as treating paralysis and memory loss. They also addressed improvements for future surgeries to prevent issues encountered during the first implantation on Arizona man Noland Arbaugh.

Musk emphasised that the long-term goal is to reduce the civilisational risk posed by AI by fostering “a closer symbiosis between human intelligence and digital intelligence.”

Elon Musk stated that the goal is “to give people superpowers,” as he announced that Neuralink will implement changes to address the issue of its electrode threads retracting from brain tissue in upcoming surgeries.

To mitigate this problem, the proposed fixes include removing an air pocket that may have caused the threads to retract in the first surgery. Additionally, the company plans to insert the threads more accurately on the folds of the brain in future procedures, he explained.

Earlier in January, Neuralink successfully transplanted the device into the brain of a man who was paralysed from the shoulders down in a diving accident.

After the implantation of Neuralink, the man was able to play chess, and video games and control the computer screen with his brain.

Elon Musk has a strong passion for technology and constantly seeks to innovate in the field.

Neuralink is a product of this mindset. The company, specialising in neural interface technology, is gaining attention for its unique chip. Neuralink has developed an AI-powered microchip capable of recording and interpreting brain activity.

Remarkably, this chip is designed to help individuals overcome mental disabilities. The company asserts that the chip can even read your thoughts.

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‘The Shining’ Star Shelley Duvall Dies at 75

Shelley Duvall, the saucer-eyed, rail-thin waif who starred in seven films directed by her mentor, Robert Altman, and avoided the ax wielded by an unhinged Jack Nicholson in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, died Thursday. She was 75.

Duvall died in her sleep of complications from diabetes at her home in Blanco, Texas, spokesperson Gary Springer told The Hollywood Reporter.

“My dear, sweet, wonderful life partner and friend left us. Too much suffering lately, now she’s free. Fly away, beautiful Shelley,” said Dan Gilroy, her life partner since 1989.

In November 2016, a disheveled Duvall appeared on an episode of the syndicated talk show Dr. Phil and revealed that she was suffering from mental illness. “I am very sick. I need help,” she said. Four years later, THR‘s Seth Abramovitch visited her for a memorable story.

Before she fled Hollywood for her native Texas in the mid-1990s, Duvall had a thriving career as a versatile, one-of-a-kind actress and head of her own production company, Think Entertainment, which created star-studded, innovative children’s programming for cable television that netted her two Emmy Award nominations.

While attending junior college in her hometown of Houston, Duvall was discovered by Altman staff members and talked into taking a screen test. She then made her onscreen debut as teenage seductress and Astrodome tour guide Suzanne Davis in Brewster McCloud (1970).

A decade later, Duvall sang and starred opposite Robin Williams as the iconic comic-strip character Olive Oyl, the strong-willed damsel in distress, in Altman’s live-action adaptation of Popeye.

In between, the childlike star collaborated with Altman as a mail-order bride in McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971); as the woman who has a Mississippi romance with bank robber Keith Carradine in Thieves Like Us (1974); as the groupie L.A. Joan, fond of hot pants and platform shoes, in Nashville (1975); as the wife of President Grover Cleveland in Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson (1976); and as Millie Lamoureaux, a fantasizing attendant at a Palm Springs health spa for the elderly, in 3 Women (1977).

Asked by The New York Times in 1977 why she chose to keep working with Altman, she said: “He offers me damn good roles. None of them have been alike. He has a great confidence in me, and a trust and respect for me, and he doesn’t put any restrictions on me or intimidate me, and I love him.

“I remember the first advice he ever gave me: ‘Don’t take yourself seriously.’ Sometimes I find myself feeling self-centered, and then all of a sudden that bit of advice will pop into my head and I’ll laugh.”

Altman once noted that Duvall “was able to swing all sides of the pendulum: charming, silly, sophisticated, pathetic, even beautiful.”

She won the best actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for portraying Millie.

For the film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining, Duvall said she was put to the test during the 13-month shoot in England. In the horror classic, she plays the besieged wife Wendy Torrance, who spends a harsh winter at the desolate Overlook Hotel with her writer husband (Nicholson) — who slowly goes mad — and their young son (Danny Lloyd).

Kubrick had her “crying 12 hours a day for weeks on end,” she said in a 1981 interview with People magazine. “I will never give that much again. If you want to get into pain and call it art, go ahead, but not with me.”

Before a scene, she told Abramovitch in January 2021, she would put on a Sony Walkman and “listen to sad songs. Or you just think about something very sad in your life or how much you miss your family or friends. But after a while, your body rebels. It says: ‘Stop doing this to me. I don’t want to cry every day.’ And sometimes just that thought alone would make me cry. To wake up on a Monday morning, so early, and realize that you had to cry all day because it was scheduled — I would just start crying. I’d be like, ‘Oh no, I can’t, I can’t.’ And yet I did it. I don’t know how I did it. Jack said that to me, too. He said, ‘I don’t know how you do it.’”

One report said that she was forced to perform her iconic scene with the baseball bat an exhausting 127 times.

Memorable every time she showed up onscreen, Duvall also portrayed a spacy rock journalist in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall (1977); appeared as Pansy in funny scenes with Michael Palin in Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits (1981); and played Steve Martin’s supportive pal Dixie in Roxanne (1987).

Roger Ebert wrote in 1980 that Duvall “looks and sounds like almost nobody else … and has possibly played more really different kinds of characters than almost any other young actress of the 1970s.

“In all of her roles, there is an openness about her, as if somehow nothing has come between her open face and our eyes — no camera, dialogue, makeup, method of acting — and she is just spontaneously being the character.”

She returned to acting in 2022 after two decades away with a role in The Forest Hills.

Shelley Alexis Duvall was born in Fort Worth on July 7, 1949, the oldest of four children (and the only daughter). Her parents, Bob, a cattle auctioneer turned attorney, and her mother, Bobbie, a realtor, brought the family to Houston when she was 5. She attended South Texas Junior College, where she studied to be a research scientist and was interested in nutrition.

At a party she threw for her fiancé, artist Bernard Sampson, she met members of Altman’s crew while they were in town filming Brewster McCloud. They brought her to meet the director and producer Lou Adler, and they offered the gawky, 20-year-old with an overbite a role in the movie.

Duvall, who had never traveled outside of Texas, turned them down at first but then agreed to take a screen test. “I got tired of arguing and thought, ‘Maybe I am an actress,’ ” she said.

Her résumé would go on to include F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Bernice Bobs Her Hair (1976) for PBS, Frankenweenie (1984), Changing Habits (1997), Home Fries (1998), Jane Campion’s The Portrait of a Lady (1996), Suburban Commando (1991) and, in her last acting appearance for a while, Manna From Heaven (2002).

In 1981, Duvall recorded Sweet Dreams, an album of music for children, and a year later, Showtime bought her pitch that turned into 26 episodes of the Peabody Award-winning Faerie Tale Theatre, which she executive produced, narrated and appeared on.

Three years later, she created Tall Tales & Legends, a one-hour anthology series, also for Showtime, that featured adaptations of American folk tales.

On both shows, Duvall persuaded A-listers like Williams, Teri Garr, Eric Idle, Jeff Bridges, Mick Jagger, Liza Minnelli and Vanessa Redgrave to work for scale. Both series also were big sellers on video.

In 1987, she launched Think Entertainment, which specialized in family entertainment like Shelley Duvall’s Bedtime Stories (featuring the likes of Bette Midler, Michael J. Fox and Dudley Moore reciting classic children’s tales) and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and she produced telefilms including ABC’s Backfield in Motion, starring Roseanne and Tom Arnold.

Duvall married Sampson during the filming of Brewster McCloud, but they divorced after four years in 1974, soon after they arrived in Los Angeles.

She later dated musician Paul Simon, whom she met in New York around the time of Annie Hall (he also had a cameo in the movie). They lived together on Central Park West until he left her for her friend, Carrie Fisher. (She said he broke the news to her as she was about to board the Concorde to London to work on The Shining, and she cried during the entire flight.)

Duvall also lived with Stan Wilson, who played Oscar the barber in Popeye, before meeting singer-drummer Gilroy, a member of the pop group Breakfast Club who had been Madonna’s boyfriend. They fell for each other after starring in the 1990 Disney Channel movie Mother Goose Rock ‘n’ Rhyme.

Survivors include her brothers, Scott, Stewart and Shane.

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Axios: Schumer Open to Dumping Biden

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is privately signaling to donors that he’s open to a Democratic presidential ticket that isn’t led by President Biden, Axios reported.

In public, Schumer has been insistent that he is “for Joe.” In private, he’s singing a different tune.

Over the last 12 days, Schumer has been listening to donors’ ideas and suggestions about the best way forward for the party, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The majority leader is one of several Democrats, including former President Obama and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has the political and personal standing to convince Biden to step aside. Even so, Biden can still dig in and the delegates are pledged to him.

“As I have made clear repeatedly publicly and privately, I support President Biden and remain committed to ensuring Donald Trump is defeated in November,” Schumer said in a statement after this story was published.

Both before and after the debate, Schumer’s famous flip phone burned up with donors, sharing their views. Schumer has been listening.

Schumer hasn’t indicated who, if anyone, might be a more viable candidate than Biden.

His focus is on defeating former President Trump and retaining the Democratic majority in the Senate.

In addition to donors, he is receiving feedback from his fellow senators.

Following Tuesday’s caucus lunch, Schumer invited senior Biden campaign officials to brief members and directly address any concerns they might have.

Biden’s command to lawmakers to “end” the talk of replacing him has not been heeded.

Today, Pelosi openly suggested that Biden should reconsider his decision. “It’s up to the president to decide if he is going to run,” Pelosi said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “The time is running short.”

This afternoon, Rep. Pat Ryan (D-N.Y.) became the eighth House Democrat to call for Biden to drop out of the race.

Schumer’s conversations are part of a roiling debate in the Democratic Party, with prominent donors — including George Clooney — now calling on Biden to drop out of the race.

Lawmakers and donors are waiting for more polling data, most of which has been negative for Biden, before making a potential move against the president.

They are also watching his public performances, with many waiting to see how he does in a post-NATO press conference Thursday.

In Tuesday’s Democratic caucus meeting, Schumer didn’t tip his hand on whether he thought Biden could beat Trump or he should lead his party’s ticket in November.

But Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) voiced their concerns that Biden is likely to lose the election.

They were joined by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who later in the day took his private warnings public, telling CNN, “I think that we could lose the whole thing.”

Multiple Democratic senators told Axios on Wednesday that Schumer is listening to the concerns of his whole caucus on the topic of Biden’s future.

Biden did receive public support from several senators today, including from Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), the chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

“I believe President Biden can win,” Peters said, according to the Detroit News. “And I believe that we’ll be able to hold the Senate majority.”

When Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) was asked by reporters Wednesday if he agreed with Bennet that Biden was in danger of losing, Casey responded: “No.”

“The president can win and I think he will win,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said.

Even before Biden’s dismal showing, Schumer was telling allies that the late June debate date — the earliest debate in modern presidential history — had two obvious advantages:

It would give Biden time to recover if he performed poorly.

Or it would give Democrats the option of finding a different standard-bearer if Biden’s candidacy wasn’t salvageable.

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House Passes Legislation Requiring Proof of U.S. Citizenship for Voter Registration

House Republicans and a handful of Democrats passed legislation on Wednesday requiring proof of U.S. citizenship in order to vote, a top GOP priority that Democratic leadership strongly opposed.

The Safeguard American Voter Eligibility (SAVE) Act was supported by 216 Republicans and five Democrats, with 198 Democratic lawmakers opposing the bill. It is unlikely to go anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

President Biden has vowed to veto the measure.

The SAVE Act would require voters to provide proof of citizenship including a valid photo ID and documentation such as a birth certificate.

Republicans have warned of illegal immigrants potentially registering to vote and casting ballots in national elections this year. Although documentary proof of citizenship is not required for federal voter registration forms, it is illegal to falsely claim oneself to be a U.S. citizen.

Noncitizen voting is not a widely documented phenomenon, but some deep-blue locales have passed laws permitting it. The left-wing Brennan Center found 30 suspected cases of noncitizen voting out of 23.5 million votes across 42 jurisdictions in the 2016 election.

“Over the past four years, Joe Biden has welcomed millions upon millions of illegals into the country knowing that noncitizens only have to check a box to vote in a federal election,” House Speaker Mike Johnson (R., La.) said in a statement.

“We have long known this was an intentional effort to turn them into voters, and now the American people know where every member of Congress stands on this critically important issue.”

Johnson’s office published a report in June making the case for the SAVE Act, and the document cites a 2014 study that apparently found noncitizens voted in 2008 and 2010 elections. A loophole in the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and the Biden administration’s refusal to enforce immigration law could potentially allow noncitizens to vote, the white paper warns.

Record levels of border crossings under President Biden and a string of high-profile violent crimes by illegal immigrants have raised the immigration issue to the top of voters’ minds. Biden consistently polls poorly on the issue compared with his 2024 rival, former president Donald Trump, who backed the SAVE Act and urged Republicans to vote for it on Wednesday.

“And they should pass the SAVE ACT immediately to stop illegals from voting in our elections. Republicans MUST GET TOUGH about stopping weaponization and cheating!” Trump said on Truth Social.

Before the vote, House Democratic leadership urged members to vote no on the SAVE Act, Axios reported. Democrats have suggested the SAVE Act would be burdensome for millions of Americans and dismissed the possibility of noncitizen voting in federal elections. Across the board, Democrats oppose voter-ID requirements, arguing that such measures are racist toward black voters.

“This bill would do nothing to safeguard our elections, but it would make it much harder for all eligible Americans to register to vote and increase the risk that eligible voters are purged from voter rolls,” the White House said in a statement opposing the SAVE Act.

“The evidence is clear that the current laws to prevent noncitizen voting are working as intended — it is extraordinarily rare for noncitizens to break the law by voting in Federal elections.”

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Comer Subpoenas 3 White House Staffers for Covering Biden’s Mental Decline

The House Oversight Committee subpoenaed three White House staffers on Wednesday alleging they are “running interference” for President Joe Biden over his perceived mental decline.

Biden left many Democrats concerned over his performance at the first presidential debate last month, after he stumbled his way through his responses, which raised questions about his ability to serve as commander-in-chief for another four years.

House Oversight Chairman James Comer issued the subpoenas for Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Oval Office Operations Ashley Williams, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the First Lady Anthony Bernal, and Deputy White House Chief of Staff Annie Tomasini.

“The White House has shielded three key aides from testifying about President Biden’s mishandling of classified documents and now we’ve learned through reporting these same aides are also seeking to cover up President Biden’s declining cognitive state inside the White House,” Comer said in a statement.

“President Biden is clearly unfit for office, yet his staff are trying to hide the truth from the American people. Key White House staff must come before our committee so we can provide the transparency and accountability that Americans deserve,” he added.

Comer accused the staffers, who he previously sought testimony from in his investigation of Biden’s handling of classified documents, of performing his job as the country’s leader for him.

The letters containing the subpoenas also cited a former Biden aide who claimed the three employees formed a “protective bubble” around the president to the point that he “lost all independence.”

The three aides will be required to testify in front of the committee, with proposed dates stretching from July 23 through July 25.

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CNN to Lay Off 100 Employees — Plots Digital Subscription Launch for End of Year

Layoffs will once again hit CNN as the cable news channel reorganizes in a push to expand its digital businesses.

CNN CEO Mark Thompson outlined his digital vision in a lengthy memo to staff Wednesday morning, announcing plans to build a flurry of digital products, including a subscription offering before the end of the year, plans to launch other paid offerings built around lifestyle journalism and a “strategic push into AI.”

In his note, Thompson said that about 100 roles will be cut, representing just shy of 3 percent of CNN’s workforce. He will host a town hall with staff later in the day to further elaborate on the plan.

“Wherever possible, we’ve closed open positions rather than target currently occupied roles,” Thompson wrote. “However, some of our colleagues will learn today that their jobs are being eliminated or are at risk.”

CNN last had significant layoffs in late 2022 under previous CEO Chris Licht. Those cuts included major reductions at the HLN channel as well as at CNN International, along with a reevaluation of its on-air contributor deals.

However, he also noted that the company has created new roles that will help him and his team build out his digital ambitions.

Thompson was hired last year after Licht’s ouster, reorganizing the company earlier this year to be more digital-centric.

While the specifics around CNN’s first subscription offering were not clear from the memo, Thompson did emphasize that rather than the text-based experience it currently leans on, CNN will focus more on video in digital going forward.

“More than anything the CNN brand stands for news brought to you in moving pictures and sound with an onscreen anchor or correspondent acting as a trusted guide,” Thompson wrote. “In the future our digital products need to do a far better job of reflecting CNN’s massive strength in video and anchoring/reporting talent. Video will be at the heart of our future and a re-imagined video experience on every platform — from pure digital to streaming, FAST channels and more — it is essential for CNN’s future.”

To that end, CNN will also be building out its free, ad-supported streaming business with two new offerings, one based on CNN Originals, and another based on CNN en Español.

And with regard to artificial intelligence, Thompson writes that he wants to determine “how best to safely harness this emerging new technology to serve our audiences and deliver our journalistic goals more effectively and responsively.”

On the TV front, Thompson wrote that “as everyone knows, we’re living through a revolution in both news and television consumption from which our domestic and international TV channels are certainly not immune. To me, the right response to this revolution is not despair but adaptation and innovation.”

He announced the creation of a TV futures lab led by Eric Sherling, which “will not only develop and manage streaming and VOD programming for the Max platform but will lead new thinking about ways to migrate the linear news experience to other new digital environments.”

And Charlie Moore, who oversees primetime for CNN, will seek to “further develop and strengthen” the lineup, suggesting that changes will follow.

Perhaps most notable for CNN staff (even if viewers may not notice immediately) is that CNN will reorganize its newsrooms to break down walls between CNN domestic and CNN International, as well as digital and TV, text-based and video.

“Rather than separate tribes of TV and digital, international and domestic, we need to recognize that we are all journalists and storytellers first and foremost,” Thompson wrote. “We plan to provide more opportunities for everyone to learn new skills and new forms of storytelling, and more chances to move from one part of CNN to another. The new operating model for news is very different from how we work today, and we’ll take the next few weeks to transition to the new state.”

You can read Thompson’s full memo below:

Dear all,

Two weeks ago, America and the world turned their attention to a CNN studio in Atlanta. The programme we broadcast that night was one of the most consequential not just in our history but that of the whole of TV news. It was also a perfect example of everything CNN stands for. Fairness. Total professionalism. A commitment to be there for our audiences when it matters most and to live up to Ted Turner’s founding mission for this great news company.

From the day I joined CNN nine months ago, I’ve talked about the need to take this precious inheritance and future-proof it for a very different media future. Back in January I set out some big themes:

Follow the audience – their consumption of news has changed beyond recognition so we need to adapt and transform our services to meet them where they are today and will be tomorrow;

Double down on news – it’s what we stand for and our competitive advantage, but now is the time to bring all the disparate branches of news at CNN into one organization to power those future services;

Develop a digital strategy – one that is ambitious enough to deliver the audiences and the revenue we need to maintain our unique journalistic firepower and succeed as a business.

Enhance our core TV product – millions of people still find it an indispensable way of immersing themselves in news and current events, so find a clear pathway to migrate the TV experience into the digital future.

Today is a key milestone in the transformation of CNN because, after months of work by literally hundreds of you, we’re now able to set out in more detail how we plan to turn these themes into reality. In the sections below you’ll read of plans to move from today to an integrated and significantly streamlined multimedia news operation; a bold new digital strategy which includes the launch before the end of the year of CNN.com’s first direct-to-consumer subscription product; the creation of a TV Futures lab to develop formats and distribution opportunities for the linear news experience on digital platforms; plans to open up other new sources of revenue for CNN; and much else besides. Some of these plans will require investment and there will be new roles and opportunities in many areas. But we’re also closing some posts and you’ll read about those in this memo as well.

Turning a great news organization towards the future is not a one-day affair. It happens in stages and over time. Today’s announcements do not answer every question or seek to solve every challenge we face. However, they do represent a significant step forward and I hope you will read about them in that spirit.

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