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Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman. Photo: Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Kingdom Council/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced five people to death for the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, and three others were sentenced to prison, AP reports.

Why it matters: The Saudis still deny that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had any knowledge or involvement in the assassination, despite the CIA concluding last year that he gave the order.

  • A UN investigator failed to find a "smoking gun" that explicitly incriminated MBS, but said the mission required "significant government coordination, resources and finances" and recommended a further probe, Axios' Orion Rummler and Rashaan Ayesh reported in June.

The big picture: "The kingdom did not provide the names of those sentenced, but it said that Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide to Prince Mohammed whom the United States imposed sanctions on over the killing, had not been tried because of a lack of evidence against him," the N.Y. Times reports.

Between the lines: The verdicts followed an eye-popping effort by the kingdom this weekend to showcase societal changes: Instagram stars, former Victoria's Secret models and Hollywood actors converged on Riyadh for a three-day concert, per AP.

  • The rave was quite a pivot from just three years ago, when religious police would storm restaurants playing music and harass women in malls for showing their face or wearing red nail polish.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
10 mins ago - Health

New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

New research is bolstering the case for delaying second doses of coronavirus vaccines.

Why it matters: Most vulnerable Americans remain unvaccinated heading into March, when experts predict the more infectious virus variant first found in the U.K. could become dominant in the U.S.

10 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Rail's big moment is arriving

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Passenger rail could be the big winner if Congress moves ahead with President Biden's ambitious infrastructure plan.

Why it matters: There's long been bipartisan support for rebuilding America's crumbling infrastructure, but under Biden, the focus has shifted to sustainable projects that fulfill both his climate and equity goals, such as rail transit.

Scoop: Schumer wants to freeze stimulus changes

Sen. Chuck Schumer. Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is privately saying he can pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus package but wants to avoid any last-minute changes jeopardizing its trajectory, three sources familiar with the talks tell Axios.

Why it matters: While the president hoped to enlist Republican support for the measure, Schumer has worked to ensure he has a solid 50 votes to muscle it through if necessary. A parliamentary ruling Thursday improved his chances.

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