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Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Monday, January 31, 2022:

SO. MUCH. SNOW!

If you're in the Northeast, you may still be digging out from the biggest winter storm of the year so far. Massachusetts seemed to get the worst of it with some areas getting more than 30 inches of snow and most of the 100,000 customers that lost power were from the Bay State. Wind gusts as high as 83 mph were reported near Cape Cod, and Boston tied it's single-day snowfall record. Some school districts called off school for today while towns continue cleaning up. BOSTON GLOBE

We prefer our Blizzards with crushed Oreos and M&M’s.

COVID PRE-OLYMPICS

Covid cases are rising in Beijing, causing a real challenge for China days before the Winter Olympics officially get underway. The torch will be lit on Friday, but dozens of additional cases among athletes and personnel were reported over the weekend. China has locked down some neighborhoods in the capital and is setting up additional testing sites to control the spread. China has already banned most spectators from watching the competitions in person and those involved with the Olympics are separated from the general public. GUARDIAN

SPOTIFY RESPONDS

On Sunday Spotify CEO Daniel Ek finally addressed the growing controversy around the platform's decision to keep up episodes of Joe Rogan's podcast over Covid vaccine misinformation. Spotify will begin adding advisories before podcasts that include conversations about Covid, but said the platform doesn't want to "take on the position of being content censor." Rogan says he supports the disclaimer. The problems started Wednesday when Neil Young said he wanted his music pulled from the platform if Rogan's misinformation was allowed to stay. Spotify dropped Young's music, leading to a flood of complaints and causing the company to close its live customer support. Other stars, like Joni Mitchell, threatened to pull their music, too. Spotify's stock dropped more than 7 percent last week amid the controversy. NBC

U.N. RUSSIA/UKRAINE DIPLOMACY

While Russia is still denying it will invade Ukraine, the U.S. isn't backing down on pressure to make sure it keeps its word. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the U.N. Security Council will also exert pressure on Russia during a meeting today. Russia has veto power on any official sanctions, so it is unlikely anything will come from the meeting. However, over the weekend, Russia moved naval exercises off the coast of EU-member Ireland amid the heightened tensions. ABC

SUPER BOWL BOUND

The Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams are heading the Super Bowl. In another squeaker, the Bengals shut down Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs with an overtime field goal from rookie kicker Evan McPherson. Later Sunday night, the Rams were able to hold on against their intrastate rival San Francisco 49ers in another close one — but in regulation time. Now they have two weeks to get ready for the main event, taking place February 13 at SoFi Stadium in SoCal (the Rams home field). Tom Brady's Buccaneers didn't make it to the championship round, but perhaps the most famous QB at the moment still got plenty of press this weekend as reports emerged that he's ready for retirement. Brady's team has neither confirmed nor denied the rumors yet.  ESPN

A matchup that may actually be more exciting than the commercials.

KANSAN CHARGED IN ISIS PLOTS

A former Kansas teacher has been arrested and accused of helping to plot ISIS attacks in the U.S. Allison Fluke-Ekren allegedly trained women and children to use AK-47s, grenades, and other deadly weapons and talked of recruiting people to set off explosives at a U.S. university and shopping mall. The complaint was initially filed in 2019, but was kept under seal until Saturday. She is expected in a federal courtroom in Virginia today. CNN

DOLCE&GABBANA GOES FUR-FREE

Dolce&Gabbana announced today that it will be ditching the fur from its fabulous designs. Instead, it will begin looking for faux fur alternatives. It's the latest fashion house to agree to follow guidelines set by the animal rights group Fur Free Alliance. Gucci, Prada and Armani are already on board and last week Moncler, known for poofy down winter coats, also said it will stop featuring fur after its Autumn/Winter 2023 collection. The feathers stay, though, but  Moncler noted the down it uses it a byproduct of the food industry. AP

AUSTRALIAN OPEN

The Australian Open may have begun with all talk about Novak Djokovic and his vaccine status, but it's now wrapped up with some equally big names on top. Rafael Nadal, who took some shots at his rival over the controversy, won it all on Sunday, meaning he has now won more Grand Slam men’s singles titles than anyone else — one more than Djokovic and Roger Federer. On the women's side, Ashleigh Barty, the favorite to win, did, in fact, take home the trophy on her home turf. She was the first Australian woman in 44 years to win the Open. FOX SPORTS

It was a g’day for Australia.

BANNING BOOKS

A number of book bans access the U.S. are getting attention right now. A mayor in Mississippi is accused of withholding $110,000 in library funding because there are books about the LGBTQ+ community on the shelves. A Seattle-area school board last week voted to remove Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird from its required reading list. A Missouri school board recently voted to remove Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye from library shelves. In a preliminary report, the American Library Association said an "unprecedented" 330 books were challenged last fall. Art Spiegelman, the author of Maus, responded to a Tennessee school board ban of his Pulitzer-winning graphic novel, telling The Washington Post it's "a harbinger of things to come." NY TIMES

LEFTOVERS: DONATE BLOOD

You may be seeing more blood drives notices these days. We're currently in the middle of the worst national blood shortage in more than a decade. This month the American Red Cross announced it had less than a full day's supply of critical blood types and major medical associations are warning the dearth of blood could significantly hurt their ability to save lives. The supply has dropped due to, like everything, Covid, which caused drives to be canceled, staffing difficulties, and a 10 percent drop in donors. If you're willing and able, you can find a donation site here: AMERICAN RED CROSS
Need2Know Podcast Note: The Need2Know podcast is taking a break for now. We're looking forward to bringing you more context and analysis on the big stories of the day in a few weeks. In the meantime, check out our archive on Apple or Spotify, or watch on YouTube, and send us your feedback!