Sitting in. Voting through. Running out. It’s Thursday, and here are the 5 things you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door.
1. Russia investigation
Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School return to class this week, as the gun debate ignited by the mass shooting there rages on. More than a dozen businesses backed away from the NRA over its response to the shooting. President Trump – who says he’ll support stricter background checks and age requirements for gun purchases – plans to talk to the nation’s governors about it today when they get together at the White House. There’s growing pressure on Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel to resign after several of his deputies failed to engage shooter Nikolas Cruz during the massacre. And everyone is dumbfounded at the stunning number of red flags about Cruz that were missed.
Police in south Florida may have missed more signs about school shooter Nikolas Cruz than previously thought. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said his deputies answered calls for dispatch to Cruz’s home no more than 23 times. But a CNN review of records obtained from the sheriff’s office found deputies answered calls for service relating to Cruz or his brother at least 45 times between 2008 to 2017. CNN has asked Israel’s office to explain this discrepancy but hasn’t heard back yet. Israel is under increasing pressure to resign as criticism mounts over how his department handled the massacre at a Parkland, Florida, high school that killed 17 people.
The bombing of Eastern Ghouta continues despite a new UN ceasefire OK’d over the weekend. Doctors in the besieged Damascus suburb say the ceasefire is just “ink on paper” that’s done nothing to stop the barbaric deaths being inflicted upon the people there. And the violence is about to get worse, as there are now reports of ground attacks on Eastern Ghouta, one of the last rebel strongholds in the country. The Syrian regime claims it’s targeting terrorists and will continue to do so despite the ceasefire.
3. Austin bombings
The Democrats’ (redacted) memo on alleged FBI abuses is finally out. (You can read it in full here). It tries to undercut the previously released GOP memo on two main points. First, it says the FBI did let a court know of the Democratic ties to the infamous Trump dossier when the agency used it in asking for a warrant to conduct surveillance on Trump associate Carter Page. Second, the memo argues the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election didn’t start with the dossier; it had already been going on for weeks. President Trump dismissed the Dems’ memo as a “politically driven document.”
Is Vladimir Putin more powerful than the United Nations? He might be in Syria, where Russia has ordered up a five-hour lull in the fighting today in Eastern Ghouta for humanitarian purposes. Now, remember, the UN OK’d a 30-day ceasefire resolution to stop the bombing in the rebel-held area, which the Syrians and their Russian allies simply ignored. The Russians say a corridor will be opened to let people leave Eastern Ghouta – where some 400,000 people are under siege – but it’s not clear if food or meds will be allowed in.
4. Saudi Arabia
Will the age of the emperors make a comeback in China? The question’s coming up after the country’s Communist Party proposed dumping presidential term limits so that President Xi Jinping can serve a third term – and perhaps run the country indefinitely. But many observers see the move as a sign of weakness, as Xi is apparently afraid of the rise of a political rival. There’s fear too that this could push the world’s most populous country into a period of extreme instablity.
Another mass kidnapping strikes in Nigeria, and parents are afraid to send their girls to school. After days of conflicting reports, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari admitted that 110 schoolgirls missing from a school in Dapchi had been kidnapped, probably by Boko Haram. That’s the same terror group that grabbed 276 girls in 2014 from a school in Chibok. There was worldwide outrage and a viral social media campaign when that happened. So far, the reaction to the current crisis is much more muted.
5. World Health Organization
The Games are over in PyeongChang, but the memories will last forever. The two and a half weeks of figure skating, skiing, ice hockey and curling ended with a spectacular closing ceremony and calls for peace. Athletes from North and South Korea marched together again, and the South wants the US and the North to start talking.
Norway set a medals record; the country won a mind-blowing 39. There will be lots of debate about Team USA’s lackluster showing, but these Games will be best remembered for Chloe Kim and Ester Ledecka and North Korean cheerleaders and Yuzuru Hanyu and Jamaican women bobsledders. Check out the best photos from these Games here.
’The Simpsons’ do it again!
What did Michelle Obama really think about the highs and lows of her husband’s presidency? Wonder no more. Her memoir’s out in November.
So long, Sridevi
She may not have been a household name in the US, but to many around the world Bollywood actress Sridevi was everything. Her death at 54 has shocked and saddened her fans.
Once again, a major character’s death has fans tweeting up a storm about “The Walking Dead.”
What happens in Vegas …
If it’s time to leave Las Vegas, make sure you dump your weed at the airport before grabbing your flight home.