How do you prep for a mission to Mars? Head to Oman, on the Arabian Peninsula, of course. 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
They're headed back to school, and our hearts go with them. The students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School resume classes today, just two weeks after a gunman massacred 17 of their classmates and teachers. It'll be a short day, just four hours, as the teens try their best to get back to normal routines. But, of course, nothing will ever really be the same. At the school today, there will be grief counselors, comfort dogs, "MSD Strong" shirts -- and flowers on empty desks.
The surviving students' push for gun reform -- the #NeverAgain movement -- may be running up against tough headwinds in Congress, but it's lit a spark in the nation's schools, where walkouts and protests are planned for next month. One of the effort's most notable figures may be Emma Gonzalez, of "We call BS" fame, who now has more Twitter followers than the NRA.
2. Russia investigation
Investigators for special counsel Robert Mueller have recently been asking witnesses about Donald Trump's business activities in Russia prior to the 2016 presidential campaign as he considered a run for president, according to three people familiar with the matter. The lines of inquiry indicate Mueller's team is reaching beyond the campaign to explore how the Russians might have sought to influence Trump at a time when he was discussing deals in Moscow and contemplating a presidential run.
Meanwhile, back at the White House, the security clearance of Jared Kushner -- Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser -- has been downgraded. He now has a lesser "secret" clearance, which allows access to far fewer US government secrets. Word of this comes as the Washington Post reports officials from at least four countries discussed ways to use Kushner's business arrangements, lack of experience and financial troubles to manipulate him.
If that all sounds like, well, a lot, it really is. CNN's Stephen Collinson says the wave of triple bombshells reveals this White House is at a pivotal moment.
3. West Virginia teacher strike
Students go back to school tomorrow in West Virginia, now that a deal has been reached amid a four-day strike. Gov. Jim Justice said teachers would get a 5% pay raise, if state lawmakers approve it. Work still needs to be done on insurance issues, though. Justice, a Republican, said it wasn't talks with teachers or their union that softened his position on the pay raises but a chat he had with a sixth-grader, who urged the governor to invest in education.
4. Apple and China
Apple is moving iCloud accounts registered in mainland China to state-run Chinese servers, along with the digital keys needed to unlock them. This has human rights groups and privacy advocates worried because Chinese authorities now have all the tools they need to access users' data. Apple made the move to comply with China's regulations on cloud services, and it highlights the trade-offs global companies make to do business in China.
5. Climate change
The North Pole is having itself a record-breaking winter, but not the kind you'd probably expect. Temperatures in the Arctic soared well above freezing this week, giving the region the hottest temps ever recorded there in winter. Stunned scientists say retreating sea ice and warming sea temperatures are the big contributors to the Arctic heat wave.
"It was a botched and bloody mess."
Bernard Harcourt, attorney for an Alabama death row inmate whose execution by lethal injection was aborted after prison personnel had trouble finding a vein
"I have to believe that some of them were able to elude us thanks to the mayor's irresponsible decision."
ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan, who says hundreds of undocumented immigrants with criminal records remain at large in Oakland, California, because Mayor Libby Schaaf gave a heads-up about ICE raids
Out of the game
A first responder at the Florida high school shooting disregarded an order but ended up saving a life.
Equal opportunity drinking
Move over, Johnnie Walker. Jane Walker wants her time on the famous whiskey brand's logo.
Four billboards outside Palm Springs
Serena Williams is one of the greatest athletes of all time. She's also the Greatest Mom Of All Time, according to billboards set up by her hubby in Cali.
The number of people who fell ill after a suspicious letter was opened at Joint Base Fort Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia
Why is our stuff outside? This time it wasn't the cat. (Click to view.)