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Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Wednesday, December 1, 2021:


As expected, the Omicron variant has started spreading around the world. Two people who tested positive in the Netherlands more than a week ago are confirmed to have been infected with the new strain, which means Omicron was already in Europe at the time it was first identified in South Africa. There are confirmed cases now in at least 20 countries, including Japan, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong and Australia. The WHO is advising people 60 or older or otherwise vulnerable to postpone travel plans, and the CDC says it plans to toughen testing requirements for international travelers coming into the U.S. NY TIMES


President Biden’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers has been blocked by a federal judge, days before it was set to go into effect. The judge in Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction, saying the White House doesn’t have the authority to bypass Congress in enforcing such a mandate. A similar ruling was issued by a judge in Kentucky. Meanwhile, at least four Republican-led states -- Iowa, Tennessee, Florida and Kansas -- have changed their unemployment benefits to include anyone who was fired or quit over vaccine mandates. Critics say the change effectively pays people for not getting vaccinated. AXIOS


A 15-year-old student opened fire at his high school outside Detroit, killing three other students and wounding eight. The sophomore was taken into custody by police without incident, but isn’t talking. The victims were 16-year-old Tate Myre, 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, and 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin. Myre died in a police car as officers sped him to the hospital. Videos posted on TikTok from inside Oxford High School during the shooting show students barricaded in a classroom as the shooter tried to get in, before they were able to escape through a window. FREE-PRESS


Dr. Mehmet Oz is running for Senate. The heart surgeon turned daytime TV host has announced he’ll run for an open Senate seat in Pennsylvania next year as a Republican. Oz, who has lived for years in New Jersey, told Fox’s Sean Hannity that he decided to jump into the race over frustration with “authoritarian overreach” during the pandemic. The Republican field in the PA Senate race is wide open after the Trump-endorsed frontrunner, Sean Parnell, suspended his campaign when he lost custody of his children. POLITICO


After a brief rebound, the Dow dropped another 650 points when Fed Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank is considering speeding up its “tapering” of asset purchases. That’s an indication Powell is now more concerned about inflation -- which he also acknowledged should no longer be considered “transitory” --  than economic issues posed by the Omicron variant. Omicron is still front and center in the minds of investors: all the sectors most vulnerable to the threat of new restrictions or lockdowns have been taking a beating -- travel, airlines, oil and gas, ridesharing are all down significantly since the first news about the new variant came out. YAHOO FINANCE


CNN has put Chris Cuomo on an indefinite suspension after new details emerged about Cuomo’s involvement in advising his brother, former NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as he faced sexual harassment allegations. Anderson Cooper extended his show last night to fill Cuomo’s 9 p.m. hour, but the network hasn’t said what its plans are for the slot while Cuomo is suspended. VARIETY


Netflix has scrapped an adaptation of the bestselling memoir Lucky, by Alice Sebold, after the man convicted of the crime at the center of the book was exonerated. Anthony Broadwater was convicted of raping Sebold in 1981, based largely on her testimony identifying him as her attacker, and served 16 years in prison. But his conviction was overturned last week after prosecutors reexamined the evidence in the case. Sebold has since apologized to Broadwater for "what was done to him." The book has also been pulled by the publisher in light of the exoneration. ABC NEWS


Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake is hitting theaters next week, and the early reviews are coming in almost universally ecstatic. The critics who saw the first screening have called it “phenomenal,” “a triumph,” “top-tier Spielberg” and an easy Oscar contender. SCREENRANT


…Adele, announcing a residency at Caesars in Las Vegas. Weekends With Adele will run from January to April: SEE TWEET

...Helen Mirren, looking unrecognizable portraying Israel’s “Iron Lady” Golda Meir, in the upcoming Golda: SEE PICS


In what’s believed to be the largest rhino translocation effort in history, conservationists successfully flew 30 white rhinos from South Africa to Rwanda, where they will be under constant monitoring to protect against poaching. The hope is that the rhinos will establish a new stronghold and prosper in their new home. White rhinos are in the “near threatened” category of species, with fewer than 20,000 or so of the magnificent animals left in the wild. NPR

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