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Top eight today

Top eight stories for today including the discovery of a new potentially highly dangerous strain of the coronavirus has put the world on high alert; The long-awaited trial of Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime associate Ghislaine Maxwell kicked off in New York; Actor Matthew McConaughey decided not to run for Texas governor, and more.

National

Biden echoes concern about omicron variant of coronavirus as global cases rise

Days after the new omicron variant of the coronavirus led parts of the world, including the United States, to close their borders to South Africa and neighboring countries, U.S. President Joe Biden spoke to the public Monday in defense of the emerging travel restrictions.

People lineup to get tested for Covid-19 at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Nov. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Epstein ‘elephant in the room’ as Ghislaine Maxwell trial opens

The long-awaited trial of Jeffrey Epstein’s former girlfriend and longtime associate kicked off on Monday, setting up an expected six-week reckoning of Ghislaine Maxwell’s role in the deceased millionaire’s alleged pyramid scheme of sexual abuse.

In this courtroom sketch, defense attorney Bobbi Sternheim gives an opening statement while Ghislaine Maxwell, far left, listens on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. (Elizabeth Williams/AP)

Abortion opponents say anti-bias law would control its ranks

Three Trump appointees to the Second Circuit presided over a tense hearing Monday on a New York law that tightens discrimination protections for workers based on their reproductive health choices.

This photo of a protest outside the Choices Women’s Medical Center in Queens appeared in a harassment complaint that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed in June 2017. (Image via Courthouse News)

Medicare reimbursement case appears to stump justices

Wrestling with a complicated challenge to how the government reimburses hospitals that cater to low-income patients through Medicare payments, several members of the high court voiced exasperation Monday as they plunged the thornier question of how agencies interpret their own statutes

Xavier Becerra testifies during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on his nomination to be secretary of Health and Human Services on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. (Greg Nash/Pool via AP)

Regional

Vaccine mandate for NYC schools upheld but exemption still possible for staff holdouts

A group of educators who say that the vaccine against Covid-19 goes against their religious beliefs stepped closer to securing an exemption from New York City's mandate after the Second Circuit issued a limited reversal Sunday.

Students are greeted by faculty as they arrive at PS 811 in New York on Sept. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Matthew McConaughey won’t run for Texas governor

Actor and Texas native Matthew McConaughey put an end to questions about his potential run for Texas governor on Sunday night, announcing he will not be mounting a bid to deny incumbent GOP Governor Greg Abbott a third term. 

Actor Matthew McConaughey at the 83rd Academy Awards in 2011. (David Torcivia/Wikipedia via Courthouse News)

Chauvin co-defendants lose bid for separate civil rights trial

Derek Chauvin will likely stand trial alongside three colleagues on federal civil rights charges stemming from the murder of George Floyd after a magistrate judge denied a collection of motions to sever. 

From left: Former Minneapolis police officers Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office via AP)

International

World seized by fear of highly mutated omicron strain

Fear of the newly discovered omicron variant gripped the world on Monday as scientists raced to discover how dangerous this highly mutated coronavirus strain is and governments closed their borders to international travelers.

Students from Norway who were on a field trip to South Africa wait to be tested for Covid-19 before boarding a flight to Amsterdam at Johannesburg’s O. R. Tambo International Airport on Monday Nov. 29, 2021. (Jerome Delay/AP)
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