After US President Joe Biden’s unsettlingly dismal performance in the first 2024 presidential debate last week, more and more of his Democratic political colleagues in the United States are looking around for another candidate for the November elections, insiders say, while being careful not to insult their 81-year-old leader who has been a liberal force in Washington since the 1970s.

As some named and unnamed voices from the Democratic party have asked the president this week to consider stepping aside, Biden, while secretly holding discussions with Democratic allies about whether to pass along his electoral delegates to someone else, on Thursday told a group of Democratic governors at the White House claim that he needs to do is stop holding public events after 8 p.m. so he can get more sleep, according to CNN.

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CNN continued that Biden, according to staff,  made a joke to the governors that “didn’t go over well”:

“I’m fine — I don’t know about my brain, though,” he said. CNN noted that Jen O’Malley Dillon, Biden’s campaign chairperson, said the president was “clearly making a joke and then said, ‘All kidding aside.’”

As the unopposed Democratic candidate, Biden holds many more electoral delegates than he needs to win the party’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention on Aug 19 in Chicago. If he pulls out of the race, those delegates are no longer duty-bound to nominate him and can choose to cast their votes for any other candidate.

WATCH: ATACMS Destroys Russian S-300 Anti-Missile System Near Occupied Mariupol
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WATCH: ATACMS Destroys Russian S-300 Anti-Missile System Near Occupied Mariupol

Ukrainian missile forces reportedly launched ATACMS with at least four M39 cluster ballistic missiles at Russian anti-aircraft positions on the outskirts of Mariupol.

In the days leading up to the governors’ White House meeting on Thursday, one leading Democratic official told CNN on condition of anonymity: “There’s a large and increasing group of House Democrats concerned about the president’s candidacy, representing a broad swath of the caucus... We are deeply concerned about his trajectory and his ability to win. We want to give him space to make a decision [to step aside], but we will be increasingly vocal about our concerns if he doesn’t.”

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Ukrainian observers have been watching US presidential developments keenly as the Biden administration has been a staunch supporter of its defense against Russian aggression, while his opponent, Donald Trump has been critical of US and NATO support for Kyiv and his legion of populist and isolationist followers have demanded a stop to US aid.

Ukrainian drone strike hits gunpowder factory in Western Russia

According to an AFP interview with a security official in Kyiv on Thursday, an assault drone launched by the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) targeted a gunpowder factory in western Russia, in the latest strike aiming to dent Russia's military logistics. 

Military and energy facilities inside Russia have been prioritized targets of Ukraine’s forces in recent months, especially those within striking distance of the border that have been supplying Russia’s ground invasion of Ukraine’s northeastern regions.

A military official told AFP that the attack was carried out using explosive drones, one of which successfully hit the military facility in the city of Kotovsk in Russia's Tambov region, about 350 kilometers from the Ukraine.

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A local Russian media outlet published an alleged video of the incident, although AFP was not able to confirm the authenticity of the footage. Earlier, however, Tambov’s governor Maxim Egorov posted to social media that “two drones had been reported in the region” and both had been “destroyed.”

The Ukrainian defense source said the site produced ammunition and gunpowder for small arms and had been targeted by drones in January and November.

One woman killed, several children injured in Russian drone attack in Donetsk region

On Thursday evening, two barrages of Russian attacks killed one civilian and injured at least 10 others, including a young couple and several minors, in the Pokrovsk district of the Donetsk region, local authorities said.

“In Zavitne village, Russians killed a 55-year-old woman with a drone, Donetsk Regional Military Administration head Vadym Filashkin said. First, Russian forces struck a two-story building with a combat drone and later fired at the center of the town with Uragan multiple rocket launchers, he reported.

Among the injured are at least five children.

Flashkin added that three high-rise buildings, two administrative buildings, and a coffee shop were damaged in the residential strikes.

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Moscow jails a Russian-born American man on drug charges

A Russian-born US citizen who was adopted by American parents in his youth has been sentenced to 12 years on drug charges in the greater Moscow area, officials said Thursday.

The move comes as several Americans, such as Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, have been detained by Moscow on dubious charges and held as leverage over Washington in its fraying relations over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Associated Press had previously reported that Robert Woodland was being held in custody by the Ostankino District Court in the Moscow area, over charges of illegal drug trafficking. It reported after his arrest in January that “the US State Department said it was aware of reports of the recent detention of a US citizen and noted that it ‘has no greater priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas,’ but refrained from further comment, citing privacy considerations. The US Embassy in Moscow issued a similar statement.”

Woodland, 32, reportedly retains both Russian and US citizenships.

In an interview with the Moscow newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda in 2020, Woodland said that he was born in the Perm region in the Ural Mountains in 1991 and adopted by an American couple when he was two. He said that he traveled to Eastern Russia to find his Russian mother in 2020, and their reunion became the subject of a TV documentary.

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In a statement released after his conviction on Thursday, prosecutors said he had been caught while packaging a large quantity of narcotics at an apartment in the Russian capital. They claimed he had been working with a large-scale criminal group and had transported 50 grams of the drug from a pick-up point outside the city.

Woodland had been working as an English teacher at a local school before he was arrested.

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