Wednesday Briefing: President Biden’s Lapses Increase

President Biden appeared confused or listless in the weeks and months before his devastating debate performance last week, according to many who encountered him.

People who spent time with him — including current and former White House aides, political advisers, foreign diplomats and financial donors — said that the lapses seemed to be growing more frequent, more pronounced and more worrisome.

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

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

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

The generals believe that a truce would be the best way to get back the roughly 120 Israelis, alive and dead, still held by Hamas. After Israel’s longest war in decades, its military is running low on munitions, and the generals think their forces need time to recuperate in case a land war breaks out against Hezbollah, the militant group based in Lebanon.

The military’s attitude about a potential cease-fire shifted as it became clear that Netanyahu was refusing to commit to a postwar plan. The military fears a forever war in which its capabilities are gradually eroded even though the hostages remain captive and Hamas leaders are still at large.

In Gaza, crowds of Palestinians fled in response to new evacuation orders from the Israeli military that the U.N. estimated could displace roughly 250,000 people in southern Gaza.

A stampede at a Hindu prayer meeting in the state of Uttar Pradesh yesterday killed more than 100 people and left scores injured.

Local officials suggested that heat and overcrowding had set off a panic at the event, which appeared to have drawn a far larger crowd than the 5,000 people allowed by its permit.

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

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

Russia’s invasion has driven Ukraine to become the Silicon Valley for autonomous weaponry, often made by local companies adapting consumer goods. The availability of off-the-shelf devices, software, powerful algorithms and specialized artificial intelligence microchips has pushed a deadly innovation race into uncharted territory, fueling a potential new era of killer robots.

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

Building a fitness habit requires commitment and creativity, and now is the perfect time to start. My colleagues at Well compiled a list of some of their favorite workouts to help.

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