10 things you need to know today: May 9, 2021


China's Long March 5B rocket crashed back to Earth on Sunday morning, landing in the Indian Ocean just west of the Maldives, the China Manned Space Engineering Office announced. Most of the debris from the rocket, which was launched in April, reportedly burned up when it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere. The risk of the rocket causing significant damage was considered low, but experts were a little more concerned than usual because the 40,000-pound Long March was out of control and traveling at a high speed, making it very difficult to predict where it would land. While it appears the worst was avoided, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson still expressed displeasure with Beijing. "Spacefaring nations must minimize the risks to people and property on Earth of re-entries of space objects and maximize transparency regarding those operations," he said. "China is failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris." [CNN, NBC News]


A bombing at a girls' school in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday killed at least 50 people, many of them students between 11 and 15 years old, The Associated Press reports. Tariq Arian, a spokesman for Afghanistan's Interior Ministry, said more than 100 people were wounded in the attack, but cautioned that casualty figures could still rise. The Taliban denied responsibility for and condemned the attack, although Arian blamed the group. The bombing occurred in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood, where many residents are of the ethnic Hazara minority, a mostly Shiite group that has been targeted by Islamic State loyalists in the past. [The Associated Press, The New York Times]


The Colonial Pipeline, the principal transporter of gasoline and diesel fuel up and down the East Coast of the United States, was temporarily shut down on Friday after its operator, Colonial Pipeline Co., learned it was the victim of a cyberattack. The attack reportedly involved ransomware and appeared to be limited to information systems, as opposed to operational control systems, but the investigation is still in the early stages. Subsequently, there's no clear sense of who the perpetrator was. Analysts don't expect the stoppage to negatively affect fuel markets or cause any shortages, so long as it only lasts for a day or two. Still, experts noted that targeting the pipeline, which carries roughly 45 percent of the fuel consumed in the United States, is a "big deal" and "could really wreak havoc." [The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg]


The United States Navy announced Sunday it seized a major arms shipment in the Arabian Sea that was apparently headed into the hands of Yemen's Houthi rebels. The Navy's initial investigation found the ship carrying thousands of assaults weapons, machine guns, and sniper rifles came from Iran, The Associated Press reports, citing an American defense official. Tehran has denied aiding the Houthis in the past, though experts say there's plenty of evidence disputing that claim. The war in Yemen has killed around 130,000 people, including 13,000 civilians, and has created one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters, and all sides involved have committed atrocities, AP notes. The latest arms shipment discovery suggests that the conflict is not winding down. [The Associated Press]


Unrest continued in Jerusalem on Saturday night as Israeli police again cracked down on Palestinians protesting Israel's plans for potentially evicting Palestinian families from their homes in east Jerusalem. Before the demonstrations began an estimated 90,000 Muslim worshippers gathered at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Islam's holy night of Laylat al-Qadr. Some members of the crowd remained behind to protest, and Israeli officers reportedly fired stun grenades, rubber bullets and water cannons at the demonstrators, who reportedly threw stones, lit fires, and tore down barricades in response. At least 90 Palestinians were wounded, medics said, while Israeli police said at least one officer was hurt. There are mounting concerns that clashes "may spiral out of control," Al Jazeera writes. On Sunday, many Israelis will mark the day east Jerusalem was occupied in 1967. [Al Jazeera, BBC]


Multiple people were killed or injured in three separate shootings across the United States on Saturday. Four people, including the suspected gunman, who was shot by police, died after officers and firefighters responded to reports of a shooting and a fire in a residential neighborhood in Woodlawn, Maryland. It was not immediately clear how the three victims died. Two women and a four-year-old girl were wounded in a shooting at Times Square in New York City on Saturday afternoon. They are believed to have been innocent bystanders to a dispute that broke out among a group of men, resulting in at least one person pulling out a gun. Finally, as many as five people were injured when gunfire broke out at a mall near Miami. Police said they believe a dispute inside the mall led to the shooting. [CNN, The New York Times]


The Scottish National Party was set to win its fourth straight parliamentary election on Saturday, though it fell two seats shy of securing a majority based on BBC's projections. Independence from the United Kingdom was the focus of the election, and SNP leader and Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in her victory speech that given the outcome, which also included a strong showing from the pro-independence Greens, "there is simply no democratic justification whatsoever for [U.K. Prime Minister] Boris Johnson or anyone else seeking to block the right of the people of Scotland to choose our future." While Sturgeon is expected to pressure Johnson to allow another referendum, the prime minister has said he won't, calling it "irresponsible and reckless." The independence movement was defeated 55 to 45 in the 2014 referendum, but polling currently suggests the debate is evenly split. [BBC, Bloomberg]


Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) on Saturday granted posthumous pardons for 34 Black victims of lynchings in the state between 1854 and 1933, making him the first governor to issue a systematic pardon of all known lynching victims in any state. Hogan made the announcement at a ceremony in Towson memorializing Howard Cooper, a 15-year-old who was hanged by a mob 136 years ago. Cooper was accused of rape and killed before his attorneys could appeal his case to the Supreme Court. Hogan said that studying Cooper's case "led me to dig deeper and seek out the details" in all 34 documented cases. "My hope is that this action will at least in some way help to right these horrific wrongs — and perhaps bring a measure of peace to the memories of these individuals and their descendants." [The Washington Post]


Myanmar's military junta, which seized power in a coup in February, branded the National Unity Government, a rival opposition government that operates under cover, a terrorist group, state-controlled media reported Saturday as part of a propaganda campaign. The NUG is now covered by an anti-terrorism law which bans membership of the designated groups, as well as any contact with them. The junta has been met with persistent mass resistance since taking control. Pro-democracy civilians have protested in the streets continuously across the country, and militia groups have also confronted the army. At least 774 civilians have been killed by Myanmar's security forces and 3,778 have been detained since the protests began. [The Guardian, Reuters]


Tesla CEO Elon Musk hosted the latest episode of Saturday Night Live. While there was a lot of skepticism surrounding the show's choice given Musk's propensity for saying and tweeting controversial things, the live show seems to have mostly gone smoothly. Musk delivered a self-deprecating monologue, during which his mother appeared, and he also revealed he has Asperger's syndrome, reportedly marking the first time he has spoken publicly about the diagnosis. Musk's appearance on the show also led to a tumble for his favorite cryptocurrency, Dogecoin, which was down 24 percent and trading as low as 54 cents Saturday night after surging this month. The currency got a couple of mentions during the show, as investors expected, though CNN notes it's unclear whether the selloff was driven by investors wanting Musk to have been more supportive on air or if there was a "buy the rumors, sell the news" strategy. [Saturday Night Live, CNN]

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