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Top eight today

Top eight stories for today including many European countries are lifting pandemic restrictions and letting life return to normal; The Senate confirmed the appointments of a former prosecutor and a former federal defender to court seats in Ohio; A Republican congressman sued over an attempt to keep his name off the 2022 ballot, and more.

National

Senate confirms nominees to federal bench in Ohio, more court votes on deck

The Senate confirmed Bridget Meehan Brennan and Charles Esque Fleming to vacancies at the Northern District of Ohio on Tuesday, bringing yet more mettle to President Joe Biden's massive slate of federal judicial nominees.

Bridget Meehan Brennan testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17, 2021. Brennan was confirmed to serve as a judge in the Northern District of Ohio on Feb. 1, 2022. (Screenshot via Courthouse News)

Case trajectory to high court is bypassing normal circuit at historic levels

The high court’s justices have been reluctant to address the partisan winds beating on their backs, but the evidence of the strain caused by these influences is beginning to show as the court turns an extraordinary measure into a more common occurrence

The Supreme Court is seen in Washington on Sept. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Federal prison lockdown triggered by inmate deaths expected to be short-lived

Federal inmates are being confined to their cells Tuesday and visitations have been suspended after administrators imposed a nationwide lockdown in response to the deaths Monday of two prisoners after a brawl at a Texas penitentiary.

A sign for the Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons is displayed at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York. (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Regional

Dry January drops California snowpack below par as drought trudges ahead

A blockbuster December blanketed California’s mountains and offered hope for a drought-busting winter but after a January abound with bluebird skies, the state’s snowpack has quickly sunk below average.  

Officials conduct the second snow survey of the year in the Lake Tahoe region. (California Department of Water Resources)

Texans prepare to vote in first primary elections of 2022

While the 2022 primary season will open this month in Texas, the state’s two-term Republican governor and the liberal firebrand hoping to be his Democratic opponent have been in full general election mode.

Former Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke speaks to a mostly masked crowd at a campaign stop in San Antonio on Jan. 19, 2022. O'Rourke repeatedly criticized Republican Governor Greg Abbott at the event for his positions on public education, job creation and for the state's 2021 power grid collapse. (Erik De La Garza/Courthouse News)

GOP congressman sues to block challenge to reelection bid

Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina filed a federal lawsuit over a candidacy challenge brought by voters who claim that his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol makes him ineligible to run for reelection. 

Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., speaks at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 7, 2021. (House Television via AP, File)

International

As Europe lifts pandemic restrictions, WHO urges caution

Denmark on Tuesday declared the coronavirus no longer a major risk and lifted all restrictions, a move that will likely be followed by other European countries as health officials say the omicron wave has peaked.

Customers shop on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, at a fish market in Copenhagen, Denmark, where it is no longer mandatory to wear masks in public. (Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)

Argentina and IMF agree to new debt deal amid economic crisis

Argentina and the International Monetary Fund have agreed to a new deal that restructures the South American nation’s $44.5 billion debt, avoiding a crisis on a day that it was due to make a $730 million payment to the global lender.

People protest against the government's decision to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

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