Here we are again, grasping for-answers, choking on tears and clutching our children after another deadly school shooting. Here's what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get "5 Things You Need to Know Today" delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)
1. Florida school shooting
It's happened again, and we can't say we're completely surprised (which may be the saddest commentary of all). Seventeen students and adults were gunned down-at-Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The carnage began after a fire alarm was pulled and students started leaving classrooms. That's when police say 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student armed with an-AR-15-style firearm, began shooting. He was arrested after reportedly trying to hide among fleeing students.
These shootings are-happening with depressing regularity. How long can we let this go on?-It's not a partisan issue. It's a parenting issue. We worry about our kids, that they are not safe where we expect them to be. The next few days will almost certainly follow a predictable pattern. First, we will search for a motive. We will try to piece together as much as we can about the suspect. Lawmakers will offer thoughts and prayers and express sadness.-Then, one side will talk about gun control. The other side will double down. Then, we'll go back to normal until the next school shooting. And the next. And the next.
Sen. Chris Murphy, the Democrat-represented Newtown, Connecticut,-in Congress at the time of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school, said this from the Senate floor: "This epidemic of mass slaughter, this scourge of school shooting after school shooting, it only happens here not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction. We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else."
2. White House
It was another topsy-turvy day at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. First, CNN learned that at least 100 White House officials didn't have full security clearances in November 2017 -- a year after Donald Trump's election. It's not clear if these staffers, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, have since gained full clearances or whether the delay is the result of a backlog or complications in the staffers' backgrounds.
Then, word got out that the chief of staff for VA Secretary David Shulkin altered emails and made false statements so that Shulkin's wife's trip to Europe last year could be paid by taxpayers. This is according to a report from the VA's inspector general, which also said Shulkin inappropriately accepted free tickets to Wimbledon. Shulkin called the report a "direct assault" on his character.
Days after top White House aide Rob Porter was dumped amid spousal abuse claims, President Trump finally spoke out, saying he's "totally opposed to domestic violence."
The-Office of Management and Budget announced the military parade President Trump wants could cost $10 million to $30 million, according to estimates.
And finally, porn star Stormy Daniels, who was paid $130,000 by President Trump's personal lawyer, may finally be ready to talk about an alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Trump. Trump "vehemently denies" any such encounter.
3. African politics
South Africa's parliament meets today to pick a new President after Jacob Zuma resigned. Zuma's resignation marks the end of his journey from anti-apartheid hero to leader of one of Africa's most vibrant countries. He was a cagey politician who-earned the nickname "Teflon President," but in the end, the years of corruption-related scandal finally caught up with him.
Meanwhile, Morgan Tsvangirai, the longtime political foe of ex-Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, has died.-Tsvangirai led the country's opposition party and once served as Prime Minister. He repeatedly ran against Mugabe in elections. And all of that came at a cost:-He was arrested many times,-accused of treason and plotting to assassinate the President, among other charges, but was never convicted.-Tsvangirai was 65.
4. Puerto Rico recovery
There are-still close to 4,000 Puerto Rican families in hotel rooms paid for by FEMA, five months after Hurricane Maria slammed the island. And they're facing a deadline. The funding is drying up, and about 200 families learned yesterday that FEMA had stopped paying for their rooms. The rest of the families have until March 20. FEMA says the room payments are supposed to be a bridge to help people get into longer-term housing-and that some households were denied extensions because their homes back in Puerto Rico are now habitable.
5. Cell phone warning
Thinking about buying a phone made by Huawei or ZTE? Don't do it, say top officials from the FBI, NSA and CIA. Huawei and ZTE are Chinese tech firms, and FBI Director Chris Wray said it's dangerous to let companies "beholden to foreign governments" inside America's-telecommunications infrastructure. The US has blocked Huawei from selling tech to some federal agencies. There's concern that the Chinese government can use the phones and other equipment-for spying.
MIKAELA'S GLORY: After days of weather delays,-Mikaela Shiffrin finally got what she came to Pyeongchang for: Olympic gold. Shiffrin won the gold medal in the women's giant slalom, racing-brilliantly to finish 0.39 seconds ahead of Norway's-Ragnhild Mowinckel.
BETTER WITH AGE: Aksel Lund Svindal, 35, of Norway became skiing's oldest Olympic champion after grabbing gold in the men's downhill.
TOUGH TIMES: It was a tough day for Team USA on the ice. First, the men's ice hockey team was upset by Slovenia 3-2 in overtime, then the women's ice hockey team lost to Canada 2-1 in what was billed as a-preview of the gold medal match next week.
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Make the first move
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Norway's curling team broke out pink and red heart-covered trousers and pretty much won Valentine's Day.
Hold up, wait a minute
Actually, we've changed our minds. The Obamas won Valentine's Day-after they dropped that romantic playlist-and lovey-dovey pics on us.
NUMBER OF THE DAY
That's how much in foreign profits Cisco says it plans to bring back to the States under the new tax law. Most of it will land in shareholders' pockets.
AND FINALLY ...
What the world needs now ...
Today is definitely one of those days when-we need more love in the world. This illustrator helped some cute kids describe-it. (Click to view.)
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