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The Morning Rundown™

CNN hosts first presidential debate between Biden, Trump tonight

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Hours away from the first debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, we’re breaking down what you need to know about the event hosted by CNN. And two giant pandas from China are on their way to the U.S. in a big step for “panda diplomacy.” These stories and more highlight The Morning Rundown for Thursday, June 27, 2024.

CNN hosting first presidential debate between Biden, Trump tonight

Thursday, June 27, is debate day in the U.S. President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will take the stage at CNN’s studios in Atlanta tonight. 

The cable news network is hosting the debate with anchors Jake Tapper and Dana Bash moderating. 

Both Biden and Trump have agreed to CNN’s rules, including no live audience and muting microphones when it’s the other candidate’s turn to speak.

Podiums are eight feet apart, which is closer than the last time Biden and Trump met on a debate stage in 2020. The podiums were positioned 12 feet apart during the pandemic. 

President Biden won the coin toss, choosing to stand “stage left” — which shows as the right side of viewers’ television screen. Biden choosing podium position gave Trump the final word of the night. 

The event is 90 minutes long with two commercial breaks. The candidates will not be allowed to speak with their respective teams during the breaks.

Though CNN is the host for the evening, other networks will be allowed to air it at the same time. 

This will be the earliest a general election debate has ever been held, with weeks to go before both parties hold their national conventions to officially secure their party nominations.   

There will be a second debate in September hosted by ABC on Sept. 10. 

Texas man executed for 2001 abduction and murder of 18-year-old

A Texas man who kidnapped, sexually assaulted and fatally shot an 18-year-old woman in 2001 was put to death Wednesday night, June 26, on what would have been his victim, Bridget Townsend’s, 41st birthday. Ramiro Gonzales was pronounced dead just before 7 p.m. at the state prison in Huntsville. 

The Supreme Court denied a defense plea to intervene less than two hours before the execution. Gonzales used his final words to apologize to Townsend’s family

Gonzales was also serving two life sentences for kidnapping and raping another woman. 

This execution was the second this year in Texas and the eighth in the U.S

It was also the first of two scheduled this week in the U.S. Oklahoma is scheduled to execute Richard Rojem on Thursday for the 1984 abduction, rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl. 

U.S. and Israel clear up ‘misunderstandings’ over weapons shipments

The White House said the U.S. and Israel have worked through so-called “misunderstandings” about weapons shipments. Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, is in the U.S. this week meeting with top defense officials to broker a solution to the war in Gaza. 

The meetings come after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video last week, saying the U.S was slowing weapons shipments promised to Israel. The U.S. denied the accusations.  

However, there has been pause on sending large bombs that’s been in place since May, when President Biden voiced concerns about their potential use in populated areas. The concerns are still under review, so those shipments will not be going out yet

Gallant released a video statement after a meeting on Wednesday, June 26. 

“In every family — and we consider the American people as our family — disagreements may arise,” Gallant said. “Yet, like all families, we discuss our disagreements in-house and remain united. Looking at the future, we stand firmly behind the president’s deal, which Israel has accepted, and now Hamas must accept or bear the consequences. We are committed to bringing the hostages home, with no exception. We are committed to defending our people.” 

Also on Wednesday, Sen. John Fetterman, D-Penn., traveled to Israel to meet with Netanyahu. Fetterman has been a vocal supporter of Israel since the war with Hamas began — a position that’s isolated him from many of his progressive supporters. 

In a video, Netanyahu thanked Fetterman for his unwavering support saying, “Israel has had no better friend.” 

Bolivia defense minister: Situation ‘under control’ after attempted coup

After ramming the doors to Bolivia’s government palace with armored vehicles, soldiers pulled back in the country’s capital of La Paz the night of June 26, and an army general was arrested. Bolivia’s president slammed the “coup” attempt against the government and called for international support

In a rebellion that lasted just three hours, Bolivian troops seemed to take control of the government, until the president named a new army commander who immediately ordered the troops to stand down. 

Late Wednesday night, Bolivia’s defense minister said, “everything is now under control.” 

The apparent coup attempt came as the country has faced months of tensions and political fights between its president and former president over control of the ruling party and a severe economic crisis. 

2 giant pandas from China headed to the U.S.

It’s the beginning of a new era in ‘panda diplomacy.’ The San Diego Zoo’s newest giant pandas are on their way from China, marking the first time Beijing is loaning pandas to the U.S. in two decades

Chinese state media reported the two pandas left China Wednesday, June 26, night for a chartered flight to their new home in California. 

Zoo officials said the pandas won’t be viewable to the public for a few weeks as they get used to their new surroundings. 

The panda loan marks a step forward for relations between the U.S. and China as they try to repair ties strained by disputes over trade, technology, the status of Taiwan and other issues between the world’s two largest economies. 

French basketball player goes No. 1 for second year in a row

For the second year in the row, a basketball player from France was selected first in the NBA draft. Several other rising stars from the country shortly followed. 

“With the first pick in the 2024 NBA draft, the Atlanta Hawks: Zaccharie Risacher from Leon, France and France’s JL Bourg in France,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. 

The 19-year-old 6’9″ forward became the 15th international player to go at number one. 

Risacher was the first of four French players taken in the first round, including Alex Sarr, who was elected second by the Washington Wizards. 

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[KARAH RUCKER]

THURSDAY, JUNE 27, IS DEBATE DAY IN THE U.S. PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN AND FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP WILL TAKE THE STAGE AT CNN’S STUDIOS IN ATLANTA THURSDAY NIGHT. 

THE CABLE NEWS NETWORK IS HOSTING THE DEBATE WITH ANCHORS JAKE TAPPER AND DANA BASH MODERATING. 

BOTH BIDEN AND TRUMP HAVE LONG AGREED TO CNN’S RULES: 

NO LIVE AUDIENCE. 

MICS WILL BE MUTED WHEN ITS THE OTHER CANDIDATE’S TURN TO SPEAK. 

PODIUMS ARE EIGHT FEET APART — WHICH IS CLOSER THAN THE LAST TIME BIDEN AND TRUMP MET ON A DEBATE STAGE IN 2020 — WHEN THE PODIUMS WERE POSITIONED 12 FEET APART DURING THE PANDEMIC.  

PRESIDENT BIDEN WON THE COIN TOSS – 

CHOOSING TO STAND “STAGE LEFT” — WHICH SHOWS AS THE RIGHT SIDE OF YOUR TELEVISION SCREEN — 

THIS GIVES TRUMP THE FINAL WORD OF THE NIGHT. 

THE EVENT IS 90 MINUTES LONG. 

TWO COMMERCIAL BREAKS. 

THOUGH CNN IS THE HOST FOR THE EVENING – OTHER NETWORKS WILL BE ALLOWED TO AIR IT AT THE SAME TIME. 

THIS WILL BE THE EARLIEST A GENERAL ELECTION DEBATE AS EVER BEEN HELD WITH WEEKS TO GO BEFORE BOTH PARTIES HOLD THEIR NATIONAL CONVENTIONS — 

TO OFFICIALLY SECURE THEIR PARTY NOMINATIONS.   

THERE WILL BE A SECOND DEBATE IN SEPTEMBER HOSTED BY ABC. 

A TEXAS MAN WHO KIDNAPPED, SEXUALLY ASSAULTED, AND FATALLY SHOT AN 18-YEAR-OLD WOMAN IN 2001 WAS PUT TO DEATH WEDNESDAY NIGHT — ON WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN HIS VICTIM’S 41-ST BIRTHDAY. 

RAMIRO GONZALES WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD JUST BEFORE 7 P-M AT THE STATE PRISON IN HUNTSVILLE… FOR THE KILLING OF BRIDGET TOWNSEND. 

THE SUPREME COURT DENIED A DEFENSE PLEA TO INTERVENE LESS THAN TWO HOURS BEFORE THE EXECUTION. 

GONZALES USED HIS FINAL WORDS TO APOLOGIZE TO TOWNSEND’S FAMILY. 

GONZALES WAS ALSO SERVING TWO LIFE SENTENCES FOR KIDNAPPING AND RAPING ANOTHER WOMAN. 

THIS EXECUTION WAS THE SECOND THIS YEAR IN TEXAS AND THE 8-TH IN THE U-S. 

IT WAS ALSO THE FIRST OF TWO SCHEDULED THIS WEEK IN THE U-S. 

TODAY — OKLAHOMA IS SCHEDULED TO EXECUTE RICHARD ROJEM (ROW-JEM) FOR THE 19-84 ABDUCTION, RAPE, AND MURDER OF A 7-YEAR-OLD GIRL. 

THE WHITE HOUSE SAYS THE U-S AND ISRAEL HAVE WORKED THROUGH SO-CALLED “MISUNDERSTANDINGS” ABOUT WEAPONS SHIPMENTS AS ISRAEL’S DEFENSE MINISTER IS IN THE U-S MEETING WITH TOP DEFENSE OFFICIALS THIS WEEK TO BROKER A SOLUTION TO THE WAR IN GAZA. 

THE MEETINGS COME AFTER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU RELEASED A VIDEO LAST WEEK —  

SAYING THE U-S WAS SLOWING WEAPONS SHIPMENTS PROMISED TO ISRAEL. — ACCUSATIONS THE U.S. DENIED.  

HOWEVER — THE PAUSE ON SENDING LARGE BOMBS THAT’S BEEN IN PLACE SINCE MAY WHEN PRESIDENT BIDEN VOICED CONCERNS ABOUT THEIR POTENTIAL USE IN POPULATED AREAS … IS STILL UNDER REVIEW — SO THOSE SHIPMENTS WILL NOT BE GOING OUT JUST YET. 

ISRAEL’S DEFENSE MINISTER MAKING THIS STATEMENT AFTER WEDNESDAY’S MEETING: 

YOAV GALLANT | ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER 

“In every family – and we consider the American people as our family – disagreements may arise. Yet, like all families, we discuss our disagreements in-house, and remain united.” 

“Looking at the future, we stand firmly behind the President’s deal, which Israel has accepted, and now Hamas must accept, or bear the consequences. We are committed to bringing the hostages home, with no exception. We are committed to defending our people.” 

ALSO ON WEDNESDAY — DEMOCRATIC PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR JOHN FETTERMAN TRAVELED TO ISRAEL TO MEET WITH NETANYAHU. 

FETTERMAN HAS BEEN A vocal SUPPORTER OF ISRAEL SINCE THE WAR WITH HAMAS BEGAN — A POSITION THAT’S ISOLATED HIM FROM MANY OF HIS PROGRESSIVE SUPPORTERS. 

IN A VIDEO — NETANYAHU THANKED FETTERMAN FOR HIS UNWAVERING SUPPORT… SAYING “ISRAEL HAS HAD NO BETTER FRIEND.” 

AFTER RAMMING THE DOORS TO BOLIVIA’S GOVERNMENT PALACE WITH ARMORED VEHICLES — SOLDIERS PULLED BACK IN THE COUNTRY’S CAPITAL OF LA (LAH) PAZ (PAHZ) WEDNESDAY NIGHT AND AN ARMY GENERAL WAS ARRESTED — WITH BOLIVIA’S PRESIDENT SLAMMING THE “COUP” ATTEMPT AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT AND CALLED FOR INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT. 

IN A REBELLION THAT LASTED JUST THREE HOURS — BOLIVIAN TROOPS SEEMED TO TAKE CONTROL OF THE GOVERNMENT… UNTIL THE PRESIDENT NAMED A NEW ARMY COMMANDER — WHO IMMEDIATELY ORDERED THE TROOPS TO STAND DOWN. 

LATE WEDNESDAY NIGHT BOLIVIA’S DEFENSE MINISTER SAID “EVERYTHING IS NOW UNDER CONTROL.” 

THE APPARENT COUP ATTEMPT CAME AS THE COUNTRY HAS FACED MONTHS OF TENSIONS AND POLITICAL FIGHTS BETWEEN ITS PRESIDENT AND FORMER PRESIDENT OVER CONTROL OF THE RULING PARTY — AND A SEVERE ECONOMIC CRISIS. 

IT’S THE BEGINNING OF A NEW ERA IN ‘PANDA DIPLOMACY.’  

THE SAN DIEGO ZOO’S NEWEST GIANT PANDAS ARE ON THEIR WAY FROM CHINA  — MARKING THE FIRST TIME BEIJING LOANED PANDAS TO THE U-S IN TWO DECADES. 

CHINESE STATE MEDIA REPORTS THE TWO PANDAS LEFT CHINA WEDNESDAY NIGHT — FOR A CHARTERED FLIGHT TO THEIR NEW HOME IN CALIFORNIA. 

ZOO OFFICIALS SAY THE PANDAS WON’T BE VIEWABLE TO THE PUBLIC FOR A FEW WEEKS — AS THEY GET USED TO THEIR NEW SURROUNDINGS. 

THE PANDA LOAN MARKS A STEP FORWARD FOR RELATIONS BETWEEN THE U-S AND CHINA AS THEY TRY TO REPAIR TIES STRAINED BY DISPUTES OVER TRADE, TECHNOLOGY, THE STATUS OF TAIWAN AND OTHER ISSUES BETWEEN THE WORLD’S TWO LARGEST ECONOMIES. 

FOR THE SECOND YEAR IN THE ROW – A BASKETBALL PLAYER FROM FRANCE WAS SELECTED FIRST IN THE NBA DRAFT —  

AND SEVERAL OTHER RISING STARS FROM THE COUNTRY WOULD SHORTLY FOLLOW.  

ADAM SILVER | NBA COMMISSIONER   

“With the first pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, the Atlanta Hawks Zaccharie Risacher from Leon, France and France’s JL  Bourg in France.” 

THE 19-YEAR-OLD 6-FOOT-9 FORWARD BECAME THE 15TH INTERNATIONAL PLAYER TO GO AT NUMBER ONE. 

RISACHER (REE-ZAH-SHAY) WAS THE FIRST OF FOUR FRENCH PLAYERS TAKEN IN THE FIRST ROUND – INCLUDING ALEX SARR — SELECTED SECOND BY THE WASHINGTON WIZARDS.