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Top eight today

Top eight stories for today including a New York jury returned a guilty verdict in the sex trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell; The world is seeing an explosion of new coronavirus infections nearly two years into the pandemic; Virginia’s new election maps were approved by the state’s high court, and more.

National

Ghislaine Maxwell found guilty after monthlong sex trafficking trial

A New York jury returned a guilty verdict Wednesday in the sex trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, convicting the British heiress of recruiting vulnerable teenage girls for predatory sexual abuse by the late millionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

Sketch shows Ghislaine Maxwell, right, sitting with her mask off during a break in her sex trafficking trial on Monday, Dec. 20, 2021, in New York. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

CDC chief defends shortened isolation and quarantine guidelines amid omicron surge

One day after the number of Covid-19 cases reached a pandemic high in the United States, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defended this week's announcement of shortened isolation and quarantine stints for people who have tested positive for or been exposed to the virus.

A sign at a CVS pharmacy informs customers that the store is sold out of kits to test for coronavirus infection. Antigen tests, while less precise, give results in about 15 minutes. (Barbara Leonard/Courthouse News Service)

Trump uses Democrat’s interview against him in new filing to block Jan. 6 records

Former President Donald Trump staked out a new claim in his crusade to block Congress from accessing his Jan. 6 records on Wednesday afternoon, asking the Supreme Court to review a Washington Post article that Trump says proves the committee investigating the Capitol riot is nothing but another political witch hunt.

Supporters of President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Amid military tensions on Ukraine border, Biden and Putin schedule talk

President Joe Biden will speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday as Ukraine sits on the precipice of crisis with the buildup of Russian troops at their border. 

President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Geneva, Switzerland, in June 2021. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Regional

Virginia high court gives final approval to new election maps

Virginia’s new congressional and legislative district maps have been approved by the state’s high court, drawing mixed reviews from elected officials and those involved in the process. 

The final Virginia House of Delegates redistricting map approved by the state’s high court on Dec. 28, 2021. (Supreme Court of Virginia via Courthouse News)

Judge gives tentative OK to $30 million settlement over Apple bag checks

Apple has inched closer to ending more than eight years of litigation over claims it stiffed thousands of its retail employees in California for time spent undergoing security checks of their personal belongings.

In this 2019 photo, customers leave an Apple store on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Calif. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

International

Nearly 2 years into pandemic, world sees explosion of new virus cases

Two years after the World Health Organization was first notified about emergence of the novel coronavirus, the world is seeing an explosion of new infections as the superfast-spreading but potentially less virulent omicron strain takes hold.

People wear face masks to curb the spread of Covid-19 as they ice skate at a fair in Paris on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Experts skeptical of Mexico plan to stop exporting oil by 2023

Mexico announced plans Tuesday to end all oil exports by 2023, a bid by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to make the country "self-sufficient" and better control the price of gasoline. 

An oil refinery.

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