CORONAVIRUS: Omicron is already spreading rapidly in the US. The variant now accounts for 3 percent of nationwide positive tests, up from 0.4 percent just a week ago. New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are facing the biggest surge in Omicron cases, with the variant being detected at four times the national rate. Cornell University in New York alone reported 903 coronavirus infections among students - and a “very high percentage” are Omicron cases in fully vaxxed people. The sports world is also beginning to experience an outbreak of Omicron. Meanwhile, police in the German state of Saxony just launched a series of raids against far-right anti-vax extremists. The why: they’re suspected of plotting violence against the state premier for backing coronavirus measures. Tension, high.
WORLD: The death toll from the Haiti fuel tanker explosion is rising. 62 people have now been killed after the vehicle ignited, with many victims caught in the explosion while trying to gather leaking fuel. This comes amid a devastating gas shortage in Haiti. In other news, more than 100 people were trapped on the roof of Hong Kong’s World Trade Center after a fire broke out in the building. 8 people were injured and sent to the hospital. A total of 150 people have been evacuated so far, with rescue operations still underway. In other news, a human rights group says that North Korea has publicly executed 7 people in the past decade for watching or distributing K-pop from South Korea. Kim Jong Un reportedly calls it a “vicious cancer.”
POLITICS: A lot is going on in Washington, DC. Here’s the rundown. Yesterday, Congress voted to increase the debt limit by $2.5 trillion (with a tr) and extend it into 2023. Big deal, since the US was set to hit the limit today, which could have led to a catastrophic default. But now, it looks like the crisis has been averted. In other news, the House just voted to recommend that the Justice Dept pursue criminal charges against former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Hint: he ditched a deposition with the select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack. Stay tuned. And meanwhile, a federal judge just threw out Donald Trump’s lawsuit seeking to keep his tax returns from Congress. Trump says he plans to appeal.