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
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 House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into possible collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign is over. Republicans on the committee said there was no collusion and even contradicted the intelligence community’s assessment that the Russians meddled in the presidential election to help Trump. A 150-page draft report is coming out today.
DACA probably won’t end next Monday, now that the Supreme Court has said it will let the legal battles over it play out in the lower courts before it gets involved. That means DACA’s roughly 700,000 participants – undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children – can still renew their statuses. President Trump had set the March 5 deadline to end the Obama-era program. Many had hoped Congress would come up with a permanent solution by then, but this is Congress we’re talking about.
Also, a pretty big decision came down from a federal appeals court in New York. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans employment discrimination based on sex, also protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation, ruled the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals. The ruling is a loss for the Trump administration, which argued that Congress didn’t mean to extend Title VII to sexual orientation claims. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals made a similar ruling last year.
No matter what happens tonight in the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, Republicans are bracing for bad news. If Democrat Conor Lamb beats Republican Rick Saccone, as many expect, it’ll be touted as a sign that a blue wave is indeed building ahead of this fall’s midterms. That’s because the district is in the heart of Trump country. Donald Trump won it by 20 percentage points in 2016.
3. Austin bombings
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.
People are on edge in the Texas capital, and for good reason. Three package bombs have exploded there over 10 days. The bombings have killed a teenager and a 39-year-old man and critically hurt an elderly woman. And police believe the three explosions are connected. All three packages were found outside the victims’ houses, but none had been delivered by the US Postal Service, UPS or FedEx. And there’s the possibility that these blasts could be a hate crime, because two of the victims were black and one was Hispanic. The city’s police chief wants everyone in Austin to be cautious about packages.
4. Saudi Arabia
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.
Divorced moms in Saudi Arabia can now keep custody of their kids without filing lawsuits. Previously a woman was required to petition courts, sometimes for years, to get custody of children after a divorce. This is pretty big deal because it means Saudi Arabia is breaking ranks with other countries in the region that heavily favor male guardianship. The move is part of a series of sweeping social and economic reforms in the kingdom known as Vision 2030. Initiated over the past two years, the reforms have been spearheaded by Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
5. World Health Organization
West Virginia’s 277,000 public school students will sit at home again today as a teacher strike continues. The state’s teachers and school service employees have been on the picket lines since late last week, demanding better pay and benefits. Union officials said they met yesterday with state lawmakers, and small strides had been made to end the stoppage. It’s unclear if the two sides will talk today.
The World Health Organization is gearing up for a disease that doesn’t even exist yet. It’s called “Disease X” and it’s part of WHO’s global plan for accelerating research and development during health emergencies. Disease X “represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease,” WHO says. So essentially the health organization wants to set itself up to be able to develop a vaccine quickly when an unexpected and unknown virus pops up.
“I’d just spoke to him, it was, I just … it’s hard to say anything about that.”
Wingate, North Carolina, Police Chief Donnie Gay, on the shooting death of a man – captured on Facebook Live – just after he’d left the Wingate police station
“The government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal.”
Dashing to DC
She was “Clueless” on the big screen, but actress and ex-Fox commentator Stacey Dash thinks she has what it takes to make a run for Congress.
’Way bigger than basketball’
Dwyane Wade dedicated his return to the Miami Heat to a teen fan who died in the Florida school shooting and was buried in Wade’s jersey.
If you’re traveling to the Holy Land soon, you may need to scratch the Church of the Holy Sepulchre off your itinerary. It’s closed in a tax dispute with Jerusalem.
Ever wonder where Lost Penny Day came from? A woman in Chicago created it – along with about 1,900 other special days.
Queen and company, part 1
All eyes were on Meghan Markle as she joined Queen Elizabeth II for the first time at an official public event at Westminster Abbey.
CNN’s Nima Elbagir goes undercover on the dangerous Mediterranean migrant smuggling route through Africa.
Then, Jessica Ravitz goes inside the secret lives of functioning heroin addicts. They’re not slumped over in alleys. They’re holding down jobs, paying the bills and fooling their families.
Soarsay? Suarshay? Saucy?