Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Tuesday, January 5, 2021:


Britain has reentered a national lockdown as a new variant of COVID-19 has caused case numbers to skyrocket. Schools are all remote and Britons are being told to only leave home for essential trips until at least mid-February. That variant of the virus, known as B.1.1.7, has now been confirmed in California, Colorado, Florida and New York in patients with no travel history, which suggests community spread is happening. The variant is believed to be more contagious but not any more lethal in and of itself. Another variant in South Africa has public health officials even more worried that the current vaccines may not protect against it. REUTERS


Georgians go to the polls once again today to vote in two runoff elections that will determine control of the Senate. Millions of dollars have poured into the state from both Democratic and Republican groups ahead of the vote, and both the president and president-elect flew to Georgia to rally their supporters on the eve of the election. Polls close at 7 p.m. ET, at which point ballot counting can begin. Like in November, the result may not be known right away because of absentee and mail-in ballots. Both races are expected to be extremely close. AP


The National Guard has been activated ahead of planned pro-Trump protests in D.C. today and tomorrow, leading up to the congressional electoral college vote that will affirm Joe Biden’s victory. President Trump reportedly plans to attend a “Save America” rally outside the White House as that vote is tallied. The city’s police chief is warning people not to bring guns into the capital, which has strict rules against carrying any firearms. Local residents are being told to avoid downtown and anyone who is “looking for a fight.” The leader of the Proud Boys was arrested as he arrived in town last night on charges that he burned a BLM banner torn down from a Black church last month, and for carrying weapons. ABC NEWS


Iran has restarted enriching uranium in one of its underground facilities to 20 percent, in the country’s biggest breach to date of the 2015 nuclear agreement. (That agreement is still in place, barely, after the U.S. exited in 2018.) At 20 percent enrichment, Iran would be one technical step away from making weapons-grade nuclear material. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard also seized a South Korean oil tanker in the Persian Gulf. President Trump has ordered an American aircraft carrier that was leaving the region to return as tensions simmer ahead of a new administration taking office. One of the biggest foreign policy questions that President-elect Biden will immediately confront is what to do about Iran. AP


Rumors are flying over the apparent disappearance of Alibaba cofounder Jack Ma, who has not been seen in public or heard from in months. Ma, a Chinese entrepreneur and business magnate who is among the richest people in the world, had recently turned critical of the Chinese government. Beijing pulled the IPO of one of his  companies in November, around the time he was last seen. YAHOO FINANCE


A group of hundreds of Google employees have formed a labor union, a rare example of labor organization in Silicon Valley. The Alphabet Workers Union is members-only and open to all employees and contractors at Google parent Alphabet. Unlike conventional unions that focus on collective bargaining, the AWU’s stated goal is to tackle issues like pay disparity, diversity, and ethics at the search giant. CHEDDAR


More details are being made public about the plans for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. All 68 teams that make the tourney will play in and around Indianapolis in the largest attempt at a bubble in any major sport since the pandemic began. Teams will stay on “dedicated hotel floors” and will be tested regularly. Some small number of family members will be allowed to attend the games, but no details yet on whether any fans will be allowed in. Selection Sunday is set for March 14. ESPN


The final episodes that Alex Trebek taped as host of Jeopardy! are airing this week. The last shows of Trebek’s 36-year run were taped just days before he succumbed to pancreatic cancer in November. After Friday’s episode, Jeopardy! will begin a new era with Ken Jennings as interim host. In a heartfelt pre-recorded message at the top of last night’s broadcast, Trebek asks the audience to “open up your hearts” to people suffering because of the pandemic: WATCH


… Olivia Wilde and Harry Styles, taking their romance public at a wedding in California. Styles stars in an upcoming movie directed by Wilde, who split with Jason Sudeikis last year: SEE PICS

...A pregnant Emma Stone, out for a walk in L.A. Stone and her husband, Dave McCary, are said to be expecting their first child: SEE PICS


It’s that time of the year again. All those beautiful Christmas trees that were lovingly wrapped in ornaments just a week ago are being kicked to the curb. Several farms in Massachusetts and elsewhere are encouraging people to drop off their trees for the goats to snack on, rather than throw them out. Chances are, if you call a local farm, they’ll be happy to take your tree, provided that it hasn’t been sprayed with chemicals and all the garland and tinsel has been removed. CBS BOSTON

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!

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