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In our news wrap Tuesday, Texas lifted its COVID mask mandate and Gov. Greg Abbott ended limits on indoor dining at restaurants, President Biden pitched his $1.9 trillion relief bill to Senate Democrats, the U.S. is imposing economic sanctions over Alexei Navalny’s poisoning and jailing in Russia, and three female media workers in Afghanistan were shot dead in attacks.
In the day's other news: Texas lifted its COVID mask mandate, the biggest state yet to take that step.
Republican Governor Greg Abbott also ended limits on indoor dining at restaurants.
Gov. Greg Abbott:
It is a reminder that individual safety is managed everyday as a matter of personal responsibility, rather than by government mandate. Individual responsibility is a corollary to individual freedom. We can have both.
Also today, Mississippi and Louisiana also relax their COVID curbs, as did the city of San Francisco.
President Biden now says that a nation should have enough of a vaccine supply for every adult American by the end of May. His statement today was two months earlier than the previous estimate. The president also directed states to make a priority of vaccinating teachers.
Democrats in the U.S. Senate insisted today they will pass a COVID relief bill totaling $1.9 trillion, even with no Republican support.
Party leaders Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell spoke at different events.
Sen. Chuck Schumer:
We all know that job number one is pass this bill. So, we will begin consideration of the American Rescue Plan as early as tomorrow, and we will have the votes we need to pass the bill.
Sen. Mitch McConnell:
We will be fighting this in every way that we can. It is my hope that, at the end, Senate Republicans will unanimously oppose it, just like House Republicans did.
Vice President Harris would break the tie if the 50/50 Senate votes along party lines.
The United States is imposing economic sanctions over Alexei Navalny's poisoning and jailing in Russia. The opposition leader is now in a penal colony. Today's announcement targeted Russian officials and businesses. President Vladimir Putin was not on the list.
In Afghanistan, three media workers, all women, were shot dead today by unidentified gunmen. They were walking home from a radio/TV station in Jalalabad where they change the soundtrack of programs into Afghan languages. Women have increasingly become targets in Afghanistan.
Hundreds of girls kidnapped from a boarding school in Northern Nigeria are free again. Regional officials deny paying any ransom, but they say they did offer amnesty to the captors. The 279 girls packed into a government building today, awaiting medical checks. Some told harrowing tales of their mass kidnapping last week.
Girl (through translator):
We were sleeping, when suddenly we started hearing gunshots. Everybody fled and there were just two of us left. The other girl is from my town. I told her, "Get up." But she said, "I swear I will not leave the bed."
By then, they were pointing guns at our heads.
The girls also told of being beaten and threatened. The gunmen have not been publicly identified.
Back in this country, at least 13 people died in a highway crash in rural Southern California. A tractor-trailer smashed into an SUV carrying 25 people near the Mexican border. Authorities said some of the victims may have been farmworkers.
A third woman has now accused New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of making unwanted advances. Anna Ruch told The New York Times that Cuomo asked to kiss her at a wedding in 2019, just after they met. Two former staffers have claimed that the governor sexually harassed them.
Gina Raimondo won U.S. Senate confirmation today as secretary of commerce. She is currently the governor of Rhode Island. And Cecilia Rouse was confirmed as chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
And on Wall Street, stocks gave back some of Monday's big gains. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 144 points to close at 31391. The Nasdaq fell 230 points, and the S&P 500 dropped 31 points.
And six Dr. Seuss books will no longer be published because of racist and insensitive imagery. They include "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street," plus "If I Ran the Zoo," among others.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises said today that the portrayals of Africans and Asians are — quote — "hurtful and wrong." The author, Theodor Geisel, died in 1991.
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