Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 8, 2022

The Senate confirms Ketanji Brown Jackson to Supreme Court, the U.N. suspends Russia from Human Rights Council, and more

1

Senate confirms Ketanji Brown Jackson to Supreme Court

The Senate confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court on Thursday, making her the first Black woman ever elevated to the high court. Three Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — joined every Democrat in favor of President Biden's nominee in the 53-47 vote. Jackson will be the first former federal public defender to serve on the court. The Supreme Court now will have two Black justices and four female justices for the first time. "Judge Jackson's confirmation was a historic moment for our nation," Biden tweeted. Jackson will replace liberal Justice Stephen Breyer when he retires this summer. The 6-3 conservative majority will remain unchanged.

2

U.N. suspends Russia from Human Rights Council

The United Nations General Assembly voted Thursday to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council in a rare rebuke of one of the five countries with veto power on the U.N. Security Council. Russia's deputy ambassador, Gennady Kuzmin, said after the vote that Moscow had pulled out of the Human Rights Council before the vote, saying the council had been taken over and politicized by countries with their own "blatant and massive violations of human rights." The clash came as world leaders intensify efforts to isolate Moscow due to mounting evidence of war crimes by Russian troops in Ukraine. A Russian rocket strike hit a train station Friday, killing at least 30 civilians trying to flee.

3

Senate approves suspending normal trade relations with Russia

The Senate on Thursday unanimously approved bills that would suspend normal trade relations with Russia and ban Russian oil imports. The House backed the latest versions of the proposals with minimal opposition, sending them to President Biden for his signature. Senate negotiators had haggled over a few provisions in the legislation for weeks, but the effort to pass the bills regained momentum after the surfacing of evidence of Russian atrocities in Ukraine. "It's a big, big deal we are finally getting them done," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. European Union countries approved new sanctions that include phasing out Russian coal imports, the fifth E.U. sanctions package since Russia invaded Ukraine.

4

N.Y. attorney general asks court to hold Trump in contempt

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday asked a court to hold former President Donald Trump in civil contempt for allegedly refusing to hand over documents for her investigation of his business practices. State Judge Arthur Engoron ordered Trump in February to "comply in full" with James' subpoenas. Engoron also told Trump and two of his adult children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, to provide testimony to James, but they are appealing. James' office said in a motion filed Thursday that Trump "did not comply at all" with the request for documents. Trump's attorneys said Trump's company couldn't locate the documents James sought. James asked the court to impose a fine of $10,000 per day until Trump provides the material.

5

Pelosi latest D.C. politician to test positive for COVID

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement Thursday that she had tested positive for COVID-19, although she was not suffering any symptoms. Pelosi, 82, attended a White House event also attended by President Biden on Wednesday, but the president is "not considered a close contact" as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the White House said. Biden tested negative. Pelosi is the latest in a string of high-ranking Washington figures to test positive for the coronavirus recently. Attorney General Merrick Garland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo tested positive Wednesday several days after attending Saturday's Gridiron Club dinner, a major D.C. media event. Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Joaquín Castro (D-Texas) also tested positive after attending the event.

6

Germany intercepts Russian talk of indiscriminate killings

German intelligence has intercepted radio conversations in which Russian military personnel north of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, discussed killing people after interrogating them, The New York Times reported Thursday, citing two officials briefed on the matter. The intercepts, first reported by German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, added to mounting evidence that Russian troops killed civilians in Ukrainian towns they occupied before withdrawing recently. The Kremlin has denied its troops targeted civilians, calling images of dead bodies, some with their hands bound, in the streets of the town of Bucha fakes that were circulated by Ukraine to foment international outrage against Russia. Germany also collected satellite images showing bodies in Bucha's streets while Russians occupied the town.

7

Suspected Palestinian gunman kills 2 at Tel Aviv bar

A suspected Palestinian gunman attacked a crowded bar in central Tel Aviv on Thursday, killing at least two people and wounding more than 10, according to local police and hospital officials. Mayor Ron Huldai said the shooting, the fourth deadly attack in Israel by Palestinians in three weeks, was carried out by a man with "nationalistic" motives. "A terrorist opened fire at short range and then fled on foot," police spokesman Eli Levy said. Security forces killed the suspect in a shootout Friday after a manhunt. Authorities identified him Raad Hazem, 28, of Jenin in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas praised the attack.

8

Appeals court upholds Biden federal-worker vaccine mandate

A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld President Biden's coronavirus vaccine requirement for federal workers, reversing a lower court ruling against the mandate. Biden said in September that the vast majority of federal employees would have to get vaccinated or face discipline, but U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown in Texas blocked the policy in January, saying Biden couldn't make workers "undergo a medical procedure as a condition of their employment." At that point, 95 percent of federal workers were already vaccinated. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans ruled 2-1 that Brown lacked jurisdiction, and ordered that the lawsuit challenging the mandate be dismissed.

9

Alabama lawmakers pass bill targeting transgender youth

Alabama state lawmakers on Thursday passed a bill seeking to make it a crime to provide gender-affirming healthcare to transgender youth. Any medical provider found in violation could face up to 10 years in prison. The approval of the legislation by the Republican-controlled state House in a 66-28 vote sends it to Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, although she has not said whether she would sign it. The bill is the latest in a series of restrictions that GOP-led states have adopted targeting transgender young people. GOP state Rep. Wes Allen said the bill was just a way to "protect children" from decisions that could hurt them. Opponents said the bill targeted trans youth for political gain.

10

Woods launches Masters comeback 14 months after accident

Tiger Woods shot a 1-under-par 71 on Thursday in the opening round of the Masters in a comeback just 14 months after he nearly lost his right leg in a car wreck. Woods walked with a slight limp and had trouble bending over to read putts, but he played well in his first competitive golf tournament since the accident, finishing tied for 10th, four strokes behind leader Sung-jae Im. He started the round with five straight pars, then made his first birdie on the par-three sixth hole. Woods is going for his sixth green jacket at Augusta National, which would tie him with Jack Nicklaus for the most ever.

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