5 things for February 16: Florida massacre, immigration, Rick Gates, S. Africa, flu

The victims and families affected by the Florida high school shooting have great needs right now. Here’s how you can help them. And here’s what else 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 high school shooting

As the gunshots rang out on that awful afternoon, heroes stepped up at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Like the football coach who died after he threw himself in front of students to shield them from the hail of bullets. Or the teacher killed as he tried to get students back into his classroom. Or the ROTC students who used Kevlar sheets to help protect their classmates. It’s those stories that people most want to talk about as the entire nation tries to come to grips with this latest school shooting, which left 17 people dead. (You can read more about the victims here.)

We’ve also learned a bit more about the frantic police search for the person police say is behind all this carnage — and how some students texted messages of love and fear as a shooter stalked their campus. Nikolas Cruz, a former student at the school, confessed to being the gunman, according to a probable cause affidavit. He was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. He’d put a lot of menacing posts on social media — including one he may have signed with his own name — so we’re all now wondering why signs that he might be capable of such violence were missed.

President Trump addressed the nation, stressing the need to address mental health issues in America and urging children to seek help if they feel lost or alone. But lots of people — including children and desperate, grieving parents and even late-night stars — want Washington to do something — anything — about guns (a word Trump didn’t mention in his speech).

2. Immigration

Looks like it’s back to the drawing board for an immigration deal. Two plans went down in the Senate. One was a much-ballyhooed bipartisan plan that would have offered a pathway to citizenship for 2 million undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children, plus provided $25 billion for border security. It failed to get the 60 votes it needed after the White House trashed it (much to the chagrin of several senators). But then, the White House couldn’t push through its own preferred plan, which would have substantially increased federal deportation powers. So, what’s next? No one seems to know, but the deadline to do something to help Dreamers is less than three weeks away.

3. Russia investigation

Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is finalizing a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, indicating he’s poised to cooperate in the investigation, according to sources familiar with the case. Gates has already spoken to Mueller’s team about his case and has been in plea negotiations for about a month.

He’s had what criminal lawyers call a “Queen for a Day” interview, in which a defendant answers any questions from the prosecutors’ team, including about his own case and other potential criminal activity he witnessed. Gates’ cooperation could be another building block for Mueller in a possible case against President Donald Trump or key members of his team.

4. South Africa

Say hello to Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s new President. He was confirmed just hours after former President Jacob Zuma stepped down. Ramaphosa pledged to be a “servant of our people.” He’s spoken out against corruption, noteworthy because it was years of corruption-related scandals that drove Zuma from office. Ramaphosa was a trade union leader during the days of apartheid and was the chief negotiator for Nelson Mandela, who thought so much of Ramaphosa that he wanted him to succeed him when his historic presidency ended.

5. Flu vaccine

Got the flu shot but still got sick? You’re not alone. The CDC says this year’s flu vaccine has only been about 36% effective. But it’s still a good idea to get the shot, the agency says, because if you do get sick, it’s likely to be less severe and not last as long. This has been a particularly difficult flu season, especially for children. Sixty-three children in the US have died from the flu; three-quarters of them had not been vaccinated.


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From 'broken child' to mass killer
Here's the frantic police dispatch calls before Florida shooter's arrest

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