Start your day here: The omicron variant's red flags; start of Smollett trial; books we love
Here are the top stories we're following today:
Omicron update: The latest COVID-19 variant could be the most infectious one yet, but there's limited information about its potential impact. At this point, scientists do believe existing vaccines offer at least some degree of protection against it.
Smollett trial: The criminal trial against former Empire actor Jussie Smollett is now underway. Smollett is accused of lying to Chicago police about being the purported victim of a racist attack in 2019.
Books we love: NPR's annual curated list of hundreds of our favorite books is out now. This year, we present it in honor of a beloved colleague who made it all happen.
🎧 Also, on Up First, our daily podcast, diplomats work behind the scenes for a new deal between Hamas and Israel.
— The Morning Edition live blog team
(Rachel Treisman, Carol Ritchie, Nell Clark, Dana Farrington and Nicole Hernandez)