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Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Thursday, December 16, 2021:

RATE HIKES COMING

Stocks jumped after the Federal Reserve signaled that it would start aggressively changing its Covid-era monetary policy. The central bank said it will accelerate its “taper” of economic stimulus as it plans for as many as three interest rate hikes next year. Rate hikes should help curb inflation, but will also send borrowing costs higher, making it more expensive to do things like get a mortgage. The flip side to that is that the housing market will probably start to cool once those hikes start – meaning more supply for buyers who were priced out during the pandemic. CHEDDAR

OMICRON SPREAD

Dr. Fauci says the current boosters should be enough to combat the Omicron wave, and that the vaccines shouldn’t need to be reformulated specifically for the new variant. In Britain, the health secretary estimated that 200,000 people a day are being infected with Omicron – nearly four times the official number. Back here, more colleges in the Northeast are going fully remote for the remainder of the semester due to campus outbreaks. Princeton and NYU follow Cornell and Middlebury in moving finals online. In NYC, a growing number of restaurants are closing due to staff outbreaks. Several Broadway shows, including Hamilton and Harry Potter, have also canceled performances. As of now, Omicron is responsible for just one known death globally. NBC NEWS

SPRINGTIME IN DECEMBER

What is going on with the weather? The thermometer hit 76 in Oskaloosa, Iowa at noon on Wednesday, a new state record for the entire month of December. Temps have been well above average in the Northeast, too (NYC is forecast to hit 60 today). Severe storms more common to April or May have been thrashing the Upper Midwest, triggered by the warm weather, causing significant power outages in Wisconsin and tornado sightings in Minnesota. And it’s been raining cats and dogs in Los Angeles all week, thanks to a storm that also dumped heavy snow and triggered mudslides across the Sierra Nevada. GUARDIAN

DOMINICAN PLANE CRASH

A popular Puerto Rican music producer and his family are among nine people who died when their plane went down in the Dominican Republic, en route to Florida. Flow La Movie, known for his work with artists like Bad Bunny, was killed along with his partner and their four-year-old son. Six others were also on board when the charter jet crashed as it attempted an emergency landing after takeoff from the D.R. AP

PELOSI NIXES TRADING BAN

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has shut down the idea of a ban on stock trading for members of Congress and their families. Pelosi, whose husband often trades significant amounts of stock, says that lawmakers should be able to “participate” in a “free-market economy” just like anyone else, and pointed to laws like the STOCK Act that are supposed to prevent lawmakers from trading on inside information. A recent Insider investigation found at least 49 members of Congress from both parties have violated that law: READ THE REPORT

NFT BOOM

Sotheby’s had a record year, thanks in part to its foray into non-fungible tokens. The 277-year-old auction house sold more than $7 billion worth of art this year, $100 million of which came from bidders to its new NFT category that sells entirely digital works from popular collections like Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunk. The NFT craze that exploded in 2021 doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Everything from the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree to a sweater worn by Harry Styles has recently been auctioned as a digital token. BLOOMBERG

MEYER FIRED

Legendary college football coach Urban Meyer didn’t last a full season in the NFL. The Jacksonville Jaguars have fired Meyer as head coach after 13 games, ending his short and scandal-plagued tenure. The Jags are 2-11 this season, but Meyer’s off-field performance is reportedly what did him in. Meyer started the year by hiring a strength coach who was accused of making racist remarks about Black players in his previous job. He was later seen in a viral video at a bar with a woman who was not his wife, and had repeatedly clashed with his players. ESPN

BRUCE SELLS

Bruce Springsteen has reportedly sold the rights to his entire music catalog to Sony Music. Terms of the deal aren’t public, but it’s said to be in the neighborhood of $500 million. That would be the biggest deal ever for a single artist’s body of work. The Boss joins artists like Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Paul Simon who recently sold all or parts of their masters for prices into the hundreds of millions. BILLBOARD

SPOTTED...

…President Biden, pausing to pray on the street with local officials in Kentucky as he surveyed the damage from the tornadoes: SEE PICS

…Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth Holmes, in the first look at the upcoming Hulu series about the disgraced Theranos founder: SEE PIC

…Tiger Woods, beaming as he watches a side-by-side video showing the similarities between him and his son, Charlie, on the golf course: WATCH


LEFTOVERS: FUGITIVES APPREHENDED

Those two zebras that have been running wild around suburban Maryland for the last four months have been caught. Officials say the zebras were safely reunited with their herd last week, after escaping from a suburban farm with another zebra that later died when it became caught in an illegal trap. The farm owner, a licensed exotic animal breeder, is facing animal cruelty charges after a second zebra died in his enclosure. WASHINGTONIAN
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