Zyn health concerns and Simone Biles’ Brazilian challenger: Morning Rundown

By mzaxazm

President Biden’s aides are keeping a close grip on his efforts to prove his mental fitness. A Brazilian gymnastics phenom could give Simone Biles a run for her money at the Paris Olympics. And a survivor of the Baltimore bridge collapse describes the moment he plunged into the river.

Here’s what to know today.

Biden’s efforts to prove his vigor reveal his aides are never far away

President Joe Biden has set out to prove to voters and Democratic leaders that he is not the befuddled politician they saw onstage during his debate performance two weeks ago. At a surface level, Biden’s schedule — giving a few interviews, speaking at rallies and mixing with union members and Black churchgoers — seems to meet the test Democratic lawmakers have set for him.

But a closer look suggests that he’s still being protected in ways that could make his halting debate performance tougher to unsee, as his aides draw a cordon around him with the point of minimizing potential embarrassment.

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There were the president’s recent calls to two radio stations to take questions, but it turns out Biden’s campaign had supplied the hosts with questions in advance. In an interview last week with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Biden seemingly said the word “goodest” as part of his response to a question, setting off a torrent of social media mockery. His campaign went to work correcting the record. 

There are plenty of upcoming opportunities for Biden to display his acuity — like todays’ news conference to cap a three-day NATO summit in Washington, D.C., or his interview Monday with NBC News’ Lester Holt. Some Democratic lawmakers have also called for Biden to hold a town hall-style event, in which he could respond to unvetted questions from voters in real time. But all those opportunities come with risks of their own. 

Read the full story here.

More Joe Biden coverage: 

Catch up on the first day of Alec Baldwin’s ‘Rust’ trial

The involuntary manslaughter trial of actor Alec Baldwin in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer in 2021 on the set of “Rust” kicked off with opening statements, followed by the trial’s first witnesses.

Actor Alec Baldwin leans on a chair during a break in his hearing in Santa Fe County District Court, July 10, 2024, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Ross D. Franklin / Pool via AFP – Getty Images

In their opening statements, New Mexico prosecutors accused Baldwin of routinely failing to do safety checks with the on-set armorer and insisted he did pull the trigger the day Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot, something Baldwin has denied. The defense said Baldwin “committed no crime” and focused on the question of how a live bullet ever made its way to the “Rust” set. 

Once testimony began, jurors were played body camera video that showed the frantic moments that unfolded after the shooting. Another witness established a chain of custody for the revolver that fired the fatal bullet. While the first day of trial had few revelations, prosecutors hinted at more to come.

U.S. men’s national soccer coach fired

Image: Gregg Berhalter, Head Coach of United States
Hector Vivas / Getty Images file

The U.S. men’s national soccer team is on the hunt for a new coach with less than two years to go before the 2026 World Cup. The U.S. Soccer Federation announced yesterday that coach Gregg Berhalter was fired from his post following the team’s disappointing performance at the Copa America tournament. The tournament was the last chance the U.S. had to face strong international competition before the next World Cup, but the team instead exited the competition earlier than expected.  

Inflation is slowing, but the Fed faces a tough choice on when to cut rates — which could make travel more expensive 

Amid signs of a weakening labor market, the Federal Reserve now finds itself in a bind: If it cuts interest rates too soon, it could risk reigniting the price increases that have bedeviled the post-pandemic economy. But if it keeps rates elevated, the job security of millions of Americans could be further jeopardized. The Consumer Price Index for the month of June, due to be released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning, is expected to offer further insight into the Fed’s potential next moves.

If the Fed cuts rates before the year’s end, it could have a big impact on your wallet — and your travel plans. Trips abroad are more expensive for the nation’s travelers when rates are lower, since interest-rate policy affects the strength of the U.S. dollar. The Fed’s aggressive raising of interest rates to curb inflation since 2022 has made the dollar incredibly strong overseas, so here’s what to look out for if cuts are in the future.

Smoke-free and spit-free tobacco pouches raise health concerns

Will Lllamas, 32, said he quickly became addicted to Zyn pouches.
Courtesy Will Lllamas

At the height of William Llamas’ consumption of Zyn nicotine, he used up to 20 pouches a day. But after developing gastrointestinal issues, he quit cold turkey — and “I haven’t had stomach issues since,” he said.

Nicotine pouches like Zyn have soared in popularity in recent years, marketed as smoke-free, spit-free and hands-free alternatives to cigarettes and other tobacco products. But with the popularity boost comes health concerns. Gastrointestinal issues, like what Llamas experienced, are among the negative effects that come with using the pouches, as well as gum soreness and cardiovascular risks (Llamas said his resting heart rate dropped by 10 beats per minute after he stopped using the products).

There are also fears that nicotine products are attracting users who otherwise would not have tried nicotine — especially kids and teens.

Paris 2024: The Brazilian gymnast who could challenge Simone Biles for gold

Rebeca Andrade
Amy Sanderson / Cal Sport Media via AP

The Paris Olympics is expected to belong to Simone Biles, but if there is one person who could spoil the party for the American gymnast, it’s Brazilian phenom Rebeca Andrade. While the two have competed against each other before, this summer’s Games is set to be the first Olympic showdown between both of them at peak form. Andrade is known for unveiling surprise upgrades, and a potential new vault could give Biles a run for her money.

More Olympics highlights: 

  • 🎆 A sneak peek at the dazzling gymnastics leotards Biles and Team USA will wear.
  • 🧗‍♀️ A competitive climber overcame a chronic illness left him on “death’s door.” Now he’s headed to Paris, but earning a medal isn’t his top priority

Politics in Brief

Supreme Court: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced articles of impeachment against Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, citing their refusal to recuse themselves from certain prominent cases. 

Abortion rights: Senate Republicans blocked legislation by Democrats to revive the protections of Roe v. Wade, part of a series of reproductive rights bills that Senate Dems have forced votes on ahead of the general election.

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Staff Pick: Baltimore bridge collapse survivor describes plunge into river

Julio Cervantes Suarez
Julio Cervantes SuarezRosem Morton for NBC News

Julio Cervantes Suarez was sitting in his truck on a break from filling potholes on the Francis Scott Key Bridge when the unthinkable happened. A 100,000-plus-ton cargo ship crashed into the bridge, sending him and six other construction workers tumbling into the waters below.

Cervantes Suarez was the only one of them to survive the plunge. In an exclusive interview, he described what he thought were his final moments, and the pain and grief he carries after losing several friends and two family members, including the nephew he considered a son, in the tragedy. — Jaquetta White, news editor

NBC Select: Online Shopping, Simplified 

Amazon Prime Day doesn’t start until next week, many early Prime Day deals are already live. NBC Select’s editors scoured the sale for the best tech, kitchen gadgets, travel gear and more. And don’t forget to do some homework on what to buy and what you can wait to get later. 

Sign up to The Selection newsletter for hands-on product reviews, expert shopping tips and a look at the best deals and sales each week.

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