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5 things for February 21: Syria's civil war, a White House feud and a dementia study

When a-Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School alum needed to get back to Florida after the school shooting, a couple of...

Posted: Feb 21, 2018 10:19 AM
Updated: Feb 21, 2018 10:19 AM

When a-Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School alum needed to get back to Florida after the school shooting, a couple of New York state troopers stepped up big time to help her.-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. Gun reform

Florida lawmakers rejected a measure that would ban assault rifles, as stunned student survivors of last week's school shooting watched in the gallery at the state capitol. Busloads of students made the trip to Tallahassee to talk to lawmakers about gun control and to hold a rally.

Meanwhile, the pressure grows in Washington to do something on guns. President Trump-indicated he's open to strengthening background checks and directed the attorney general to look into banning bump stocks, which help semiautomatic weapons fire like automatics.

2. Syria

The Syrian government has stepped up the airstrikes on a rebel-held suburb of Damascus, with deadly results. At least 250 civilians have been killed by the shelling in the past 48 hours, according to a human rights group. Many of the dead are women and children. The suburb, Eastern Ghouta, is one of the last rebel-controlled areas in the country and has been under siege for years.-"These are the worst days of our lives," said one doctor who's trying to treat the hundreds of people wounded in the attacks. CNN's Ben Wedeman says he's run out of words to describe the Syrian civil war's horrors.

3. North Korea

Turns out Vice President Mike Pence was supposed to meet with Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea's leader, during his visit to South Korea at the start of the Winter Olympics. But the North pulled out of the meeting at the last moment. Observers say that's a sign US efforts to put pressure on the regime are working.-President Trump had signed off on the decision to meet, with the caveat that the US wouldn't back off its stated demand that Pyongyang abandon its nukes.

4. White House

The President's son-in-law and his chief of staff are feuding. Chief of Staff John Kelly ordered an overhaul of the security clearance process for top White House officials. Jared Kushner, who still only has an interim security clearance, is worried Kelly's directive was targeting him, according to a report in The New York Times. So Kushner is reportedly pushing back on giving up access to classified information, despite his current security clearance status.

5. Alcohol and dementia

A new study suggests drinking a lot can increase your risk for-dementia. The study, published in the journal Lancet Public Health, looked at more than-1 million adult patients released from hospitals in France who were diagnosed with dementia. Researchers determined that out of that group, about 16.5% of the men and 4% of the women had also abused alcohol. The link was really strong for those with early-onset dementia,-diagnosed when the patient is younger than 65. Past research has shown that heavy alcohol use can have a toxic effect on the brain and lead to long-term structural damage.

This just in:

Agreement reached

Myanmar and Bangladesh agree to-resettle as many as 6,000 Rohingyas-trapped in a "no man's land" between the two nations.



Lindsey Vonn settled for the bronze in downhill skiing in what's probably her final Olympics. Vonn, 33, was one of the favorites to win the event, but she couldn't keep pace with 25-year-old Italian Sofia Goggia, who won the gold.


Team USA did get good news in the women's cross-country skiing team sprint, where-Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall gave the US its first gold medal in the event.


Canada's team will be the hot favorite for the gold in the women's bobsled competition, but all eyes will be on the Jamaican women making their debut in the event. The final day of competition in bobsled begins later this morning.


The US men's hockey team's drive to grab a medal is over after it lost to the Czech Republic in a quarterfinal shootout. The Czechs will face either Norway or-the Olympic Athletes from Russia in the semis.


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Big star theory

Those lovable geeks on "Big Bang Theory" will have even more to geek out about when Bill Gates-guest stars on the show later this season.

Unreal flight

Can't afford a flight to Paris? Don't worry,-you can still go ---thanks to a Japanese company and virtual reality.

Panther power

"Black Panther" is not just challenging traditions and norms in Hollywood. The movie's soundtrack just might change the music biz too.

All hail the Queen

You know your fashion week is on point when Queen Elizabeth II grabs a front-row seat to take in a show.


$850 million

That's how much 3M is paying to settle a lawsuit claiming it contaminated water in Minnesota, where the company is headquartered.


Drop it on me

Water balloons and bouncy balls dropped from a 40-ton crane in slow motion? Just what you need to get through hump day. If you want to get to the slow part, fast-forward to 1:50. See what I did there? (Click to view)

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