Get the Need2Know newsletter in your inbox every morning! Sign up here!

Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Wednesday, December 29, 2021:


The CDC has significantly revised its modeling numbers on Covid variants, now saying that Omicron represents about 58% of U.S. cases. The agency had previously estimated that the fast-spreading variant made up more than 73% of nationwide cases. Still, there’s no question the variant is behind an astonishing rise in new infections that, thankfully, has not led to a parallel spike in hospitalizations or deaths. In NYC, one in 60 residents of Manhattan tested positive last week, but the biggest hotspot has shifted to the D.C. region, where cases have risen more than 3,000% since Thanksgiving. NPR


Harry Reid, the former Senate Majority Leader credited for steering the Obama agenda through Congress, has died. He was 82. Reid was a respected politician on both sides of the aisle, if for no other reason than the extraordinary odds he overcame to become one of the most powerful leaders in Washington. He grew up without indoor plumbing, in a tiny Nevada mining town where his mother made ends meet by doing the laundry for local brothels. Reid earned money as an amateur boxer, got his law degree, and rose through the ranks of Nevada politics all the way to the Senate, where he identified Barack Obama as a potential contender for the Democratic nomination. In a letter written to Reid released after his death, Obama acknowledged he “wouldn’t have been president” if not for his support. OBIT


The parents of the teen girl killed by an LAPD officer inside a department store in Hollywood last week are demanding justice after the department released distressing bodycam footage of the incident. Police were responding to a call of a man attacking women with what turned out to be a bike lock, when an officer fired on the assailant -- even as he was being told to “slow down” by other officers. A bullet fired from the officer’s rifle went through a dressing room wall and killed Valentina Orellana-Peralta, a 14-year-old girl who had just moved to the U.S. from Chile. She died in her mother’s arms as she was trying on Christmas dresses. LA TIMES


The humanitarian group Save the Children has confirmed that two of its aid workers were killed in an attack in Myanmar that left more than 30 people dead, including women and children. The nationalities of the aid workers are unclear, but both were said to be new fathers working on the humanitarian response in the country when they were caught up in a violent crackdown by the ruling military. AXIOS


Conservationists in Richmond have meticulously removed the items from a Confederate-era time capsule that they discovered buried under the Robert E. Lee statue, which towered over the city for 130 years. Not inside: the rumored photograph of President Lincoln after his death. But the box did contain books, money, ammunition and other documents that historians are excited to study. TIMES-DISPATCH


Apple and Facebook parent Meta are in a war for talent as the rivals ramp up R&D on augmented and virtual reality headsets and other wearables. Apple is reportedly offering up to $180,000 in stock grants for top engineers to stay at the company, after Meta hired away dozens of Apple employees over the last few months. Apple has also been poaching Meta talent. Both tech giants are expected to roll out major new wearable releases in the coming years. BLOOMBERG


John Madden, the Hall of Fame football coach who went on to call NFL games in the broadcast booth for three decades, has died. He was 85. Madden coached the Oakland Raiders to a title in 1977 before he opened a second act as an analyst, working for all four of the broadcast networks with an “everyman” style that made him one of the most beloved sportscasters of his time. He had a famous, incapacitating fear of flying that led him to criss-cross the country by Amtrak or a decked-out bus that became known as the “Madden Cruiser.” For his third act, Madden lent his likeness to the immensely popular video game franchise that still bears his name. OBIT


Add another Broadway musical to the growing list of shows disrupted by Covid. The Music Man is canceling all shows through Jan. 1 after Hugh Jackman, who plays the lead, tested positive. He says he’s fine. Jackman’s co-star, Sutton Foster, also tested positive days earlier, and will be cleared to return a few days before him. The virus has been ripping through Broadway at the worst possible time of the year, and just months after the curtains came back up after an extended pause. BROADWAY WORLD


…TREND ALERT! Saweetie and Demi Lovato, separately revealing newly shaved heads: SEE PICS

…Kim Kardashian, spoiling the ending of Spider-Man on her Instagram story: SEE SCREENSHOT (spoiler, obv)

…the teaser for the final season of Killing Eve, coming to AMC and BBC America in February: WATCH


Amazon is tweaking the Alexa database after a 10-year-old girl in the UK was “challenged” by the voice assistant to stick a penny in a live electrical socket. The girl’s mom says she asked Alexa for a “challenge to do,” and the algorithm generated a response apparently based on an old TikTok trend that it “found on the web,” in which people pull plugs halfway out of the wall and then put pennies on the exposed prongs (needless to say, don’t do that). Amazon confirmed that it fixed the error so Alexa will no longer suggest the penny challenge. BBC

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!

More In Culture
Load More