News Wrap: Severe storms leave widespread damages across six state in the Deep South

In our news wrap, a huge weather system blasted its way across six states killing at least two people, the defense rested in the trial of four men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the space-tourism venture Blue Origin launched and landed its fourth flight, and Israeli forces killed at least two Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: President Biden ordered the release of one million barrels of oil a day from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve for the next six months. He said it could help control soaring gasoline prices. Previous releases failed to have much effect, but the president said he is hopeful.

  • President Joe Biden:

    My guess, we will see it come down, and continue to come down. But how far down, I don't think anyone can tell. But it will come down, and it could come down fairly significantly.

    It could come down the better part of anything from 10 cents to 35 cents a gallon. It's unknown.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    In response, oil prices fell sharply in New York trading back to $100 a barrel.

    We will return to this after the news summary.

    Parts of the Deep South are recovering from a night of severe storms and tornadoes, including one that killed two people in the Florida Panhandle. The huge weather system blasted its way across six states overnight, with hundreds of reports of wind damage. Storms toppled trees and smashed homes. By early morning, workers were rushing to clear the wreckage and crews began trying to restore widespread power outages.

    The state of Washington today became the first in the nation to create a statewide alert system for missing indigenous people. The governor signed the measure, modeled after Amber Alerts for missing children. Advocates say that it is aimed primarily at Native American women, who suffer sharply higher rates of violence than whites do.

    In Turkey, a prosecutor has asked that a trial involving the killing of Jamal Khashoggi be moved to Saudi Arabia. The Washington Post columnist disappeared in 2018 at a Saudi consulate in Istanbul; 26 Saudis have been on trial, in absentia, for nearly two years. The transfer request comes as Turkey is trying to repair relations with Saudi Arabia.

    Israeli forces killed at least two Palestinians today in the occupied West Bank. Shooting erupted when troops entered a refugee camp, hunting suspects in Tuesday's killing of five people in Israel. Afterward, Palestinians marched in a funeral procession. And the militant group Islamic Jihad announced a mobilization of its fighters.

    Back in this country, a leading Republican senator confirmed that he will oppose Ketanji Brown Jackson's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina supported Jackson for a federal appeals court slot last June. Today, he said he now believes she is too far left.

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC):

    I find Judge Jackson to be a person of exceptionally good character, respected by her peers and someone who has worked hard to achieve her current position.

    However, her record is overwhelming in its lack of a steady judicial philosophy and a tendency to achieve outcomes, in spite of what the law requires or common sense would dictate.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So far, Maine Senator Susan Collins is the only Republican to back Jackson's nomination. But her support, if joined with all 50 Senate Democrats, would be enough to ensure confirmation.

    Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee will pay $113,000 to the Federal Election Commission. The penalties involve the so-called Steele dossier, which made allegations about then-candidate Donald Trump and Russia. It was largely discredited later. The Clinton campaign was accused of covering up paying for the research. It admitted no wrongdoing.

    Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced today that the U.S. Justice Department has closed an investigation of him without bringing criminal charges. It involved political fund-raising at his former logistics business. DeJoy was appointed to his post by former President Trump.

    On Wall Street, stocks finished their worst quarter in two years, as major indexes fell 1.5 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 550 points to close at 34678. The Nasdaq fell 221 points. The S&P 500 slipped 72.

    And the space tourism venture Blue Origin launched and landed its fourth flight today. The six passengers included a Blue Origin engineer and a university professor. Their capsule blasted off just after sunrise in West Texas. It flew as high as 66 miles, and then drifted back to Earth under three parachutes.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour": the transgender community marks a day of visibility, as more state laws target LGBTQ youth; an economic historian discusses the global impact of sanctions on Russia; how the slapping incident at the Oscars is sparking difficult, but important conversations; plus much more.

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