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In our news wrap Thursday, a near-unanimous Congress voted to cut off normal trade relations with Russia and ban imports of Russian oil, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tested positive COVID, Pakistan's supreme court rejected Prime Minister Imran Khan's bid to stay in power, and the trial in the killing of journalist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi will be moved to Saudi Arabia.
In the day's other news: a near unanimous Congress voted to cut off normal trade relations with Russia and ban imports of Russian oil. The action followed this week's reports of Russian atrocities in Ukraine.
In the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer condemned Russian President Putin before both bills passed by tallies of 100-0.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY):
No nation whose military is committing war crimes deserves free trade status with the United States. No vile thug like Putin deserves to stand as an equal with the leaders of the free world. He is a menace and a pariah who has ensured that his place in history will be one of everlasting shame.
Later, the House of Representatives approved the bills with only a handful of no-votes. They now go to President Biden for his signature.
The speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, tested positive today for COVID. She is 82 and fully vaccinated and boosted. A spokesman said she has no symptoms. Just yesterday, Pelosi stood next to President Biden at a bill signing. He has tested negative so far.
In Israel tonight, a shooting in a Tel Aviv nightlife district killed at least two people and wounded eight. It was the latest in a series of attacks in recent weeks. Police flooded into the area afterward. They said a gunman opened fire on customers at a bar and restaurant, then ran from the scene. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Pakistan's political crisis, meanwhile, deepened today when the Supreme Court rejected Prime Minister Imran Khan's bid to stay in power. His allies shut down Parliament last Sunday and called for new elections to head off a no-confidence vote. This evening, opposition supporters celebrated in Islamabad after the court ordered the assembly restored.
Ahsan Bhoon, President, Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan (through translator): Today, the supremacy of the Constitution has been restored. This is not the victory of any political party. It is the victory of the Constitution of Pakistan.
Prime Minister Khan plans a nationally televised address tomorrow.
The exiled president of Yemen transferred power today to a presidential council amid new efforts to end a seven-year-civil war. The announcement by Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi was quickly endorsed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. They have led a military coalition in Yemen fighting rebels backed by Iran.
The trial in the killing of journalist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi will be moved to Saudi Arabia. A Turkish court ordered that change today. It had presided over the trial of 26 Saudis in absentia. They're accused in Khashoggi's murder and Istanbul in 2018. Khashoggi's fiancee and human rights groups condemned the move. They said it means the killers will never be brought to justice.
Hatice Cengiz, Fiancee of Jamal Khashoggi (through translator): We know very well how the justice system works or, rather, doesn't work in Saudi Arabia. Of course, nobody expects a positive decision or justice to prevail. I don't expect it either. This is a political decision.
Turkey had once vowed to document the full truth of the killing, but, more recently, it's been trying to improve relations with the Saudis.
Back in this country, the U.S. Justice Department is opening an investigation of the transfer of former President Trump's records to his home in Florida. The Washington Post and others report it involves 15 boxes that included classified material. The documents have since been returned to the National Archives.
A fire at a main power plant on Puerto Rico has cut off electricity to more than a million customers. It began last night, and it left streets dark across the U.S. territory. Schools and offices were shuttered today and 160,000 customers had no water service. The aging electrical system has never been fully rebuilt since Hurricane Maria back in 2017.
The head of the Internal Revenue Service is appealing for more funds in the face of a record backlog. Charles Rettig appeared at a U.S. Senate hearing today. He said his agency needs more workers and upgraded systems to deal with a logjam of more than 20 million tax returns.
Charles Rettig, IRS Commissioner:
Modernized technology would significantly improve our ability to respond to a crisis, pandemic-related or otherwise. It is simply unacceptable for us to remain largely a paper-based organization operating in a digital world environment.
Senators complained that constituents are claiming they still have not received refunds from previous years.
Wall Street eked out gains today. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 87 points to close at 34583. The Nasdaq rose eight points. The S&P 500 added 19.
And in sports, Major League Baseball had opening day delayed one week after a long labor dispute. The season began in Chicago, where the Cubs hosted the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field.
And in Augusta, Georgia, the Masters opened, with Tiger Woods playing for the first time since a severe car crash last year.
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