Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Wednesday, August, 25, 2021:


ORIGINS: President Biden received a report Tuesday about the origins of the pandemic, and it contains more questions than answers. U.S. intelligence officials still haven’t concluded whether the COVID-19 disease was the result of an accidental lab leak, or if it jumped from animal to human. Biden ordered the investigation three months ago. NY TIMES

CDC STUDY: A new study finds that unvaccinated people are 29 times more likely to be hospitalized if they contract COVID-19.  The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report also found that unvaccinated people are almost five times more likely to contract the virus compared with those who are vaccinated. CNBC

COLLEGE VAX MANDATES: Ohio State announced it would require all students and staff to be vaccinated for the fall semester, becoming one of the first large state universities to do so. LSU said all students would be required to show proof of vaccination or submit to testing on a regular basis. The University of Minnesota also announced a vaccine mandate, and in New York, all in-person students in both state and city university systems must be vaccinated. NY TIMES


President Biden said the U.S. is on track to complete airlift evacuations in Afghanistan by his August 31 deadline, and he won’t keep troops in the country any longer after that time. Biden recognized that the success of completing the mission will depend largely on Taliban cooperation, but has asked military leaders to be ready with contingency options in case. "The sooner we finish the better," Biden said. "Each day of operations brings added risk to our troops." CNN


The U.S. Supreme Court last night denied President Biden’s effort to rescind an immigration policy that forced thousands of asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while they await U.S. hearings. Three liberal justices dissented, but the court rejected the Biden administration’s effort to block a Texas-based ruling requiring the government to revive former President Donald Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy. REUTERS


The House passed a $3.5 trillion budget framework, clearing the way for Democrats to pursue a massive social spending package, and setting a September 27 House vote on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill. All House Democrats, including a few who threatened to break the party line, voted in favor of the framework. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she is committed to passing the infrastructure bill by September 27.  POLITICO


U.S. stock markets are coming in hot: The tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed above 15,000 for the first time ever and the S&P 500 also rose to an all-time high. Investors are bullish on banks, retailers, travel companies and restaurant chains, all closely tied to the end of the pandemic. CHEDDAR


Google is testing its Waymo self-driving SUVs in San Francisco. Waymo’s all-electric Jaguar I-PACE SUVs are currently serving passengers in specific neighborhoods, with operators still in the driver’s seats with hands on their knees, ready to take over in case of an emergency. Anybody can sign up to take a ride, but at first the company is hand-selecting who it picks up. All passengers are currently banned from publicly discussing their ride. REUTERS


Charlie Watts, the Rolling Stones’ drummer, died at age 80. His publicist confirmed the sad news, saying Watts passed away in a London hospital surrounded by family. No cause of death has been given. Watts’ death comes several weeks after the band announced he wouldn’t be performing on the U.S. leg of the “No Filter” tour. Watts was often called the “backbone” or “heartbeat” of the band thanks to his jazz-inspired rhythmic sense and ability to play off of, and with, guitarist Keith Richards. ROLLING STONE


The 2020 Paralympics began Tuesday with the same sort of fanfare as the recent Olympics -- delegations of athletes celebrating in an empty stadium. Organizers are under pressure as COVID-19 infections soar in Tokyo. Daily new cases have increased almost five times since the Olympics opened on July 23. Tokyo is under a state of emergency until September 12; the Paralympics end September 5. One athlete has already tested positive and is being isolated, organizers said. AP


… Ben Affleck seen browsing a certain section at Tiffany & Co., presumably hunting for something for J.Lo. Will there be a second engagement? SEE IT

… Skating legend Tony Hawk is teaming up with water company Liquid Death to sell 100 skateboards with his blood mixed into the paint on the skate decks.  SEE IT.

… the 25-foot inflatable duck delighting Belfast, Maine residents disappeared from the harbor over the weekend, some speculate as a preventative measure ahead of Tropical Storm Henri’s landfall. SEE IT


A Kansas City animal advocate has rented billboard space in an effort to help long-term shelter animals find homes. The latest billboard model is Sally Sue, an 11-year-old pitbull mix that’s been looking for a home for two years. Scott Poore, founder of Mission Driven Goods, has and will continue to raise money to keep the billboard updated with new pets in need of adoption. Poore says a billboard will get more views than a social media post. PEOPLE

Listen to the N2K Podcast! Looking for more context and analysis on the big stories of the day? Check out our podcast! Hosts Jill and Carlo break down the headlines, every weekday morning Listen on Apple or Spotify, or watch on YouTube, and send us your feedback!

Updated August 25, 2021 at 10:17 am ET to add video.

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