It’s been just more than a week since a gunman opened fire at a country music festival along the Las Vegas strip, killing 58 people and wounding nearly 500 more.
Days later, several stores began pulling bump stocks — an accessory used by the gunman to turn semi-automatic weapons into guns capable of firing hundreds of rounds per minute — from their shelves, PBS NewsHour’s Kamaria Roberts and Gretchen Frazee reported. (Frazee explains here in depth how the mechanisms work, and why they’re not illegal).
Meanwhile, a renewed debate over gun control continues in Washington, though it’s unclear whether the deadly attack will prompt new gun legislation.
As police continue to piece together what happened in the moments leading up to the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history, here are five stories that you might have missed.
1. A boat carrying Rohingya migrants overturns near Bangladesh
A boat carrying dozens of Rohingya migrants capsized late Sunday, killing at least 12 people, including five children, as they tried to make their way to Bangladesh. The exact number of people on board was unclear as rescuers continued looking for survivors on Monday, the BBC reported.
Who are the Rohingya? As PBS NewsHour’s Larisa Epatko wrote earlier this year:
The Rohingya are an ethnic mostly Muslim minority group living in Rakhine state on the western coast of Myanmar. The government said they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and does not recognize them as one of the country’s 135 ethnic groups. A 1982 law prevented the Rohingya from gaining citizenship, which restricts their job opportunities.
More than 500,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state since late August, when a government crackdown on insurgents erupted into violence. The Myanmar government has said its actions are justified since its police stations had come under attack.
The boat that capsized Sunday on the Naf River follows a similar in September when a boat overturned, killing 23 people and leaving 40 more missing.
Why it matters
U.N. officials called the ongoing Rohingya exodus from Myanmar the “world’s fastest developing refugee emergency.” Makeshift camps popping up in Bangladesh raise the risk of disease outbreaks and challenges of providing basic food, water and sanitation, they said.
The European Union is considering ending contact with Myanmar’s top military leaders and possibly imposing sanctions because of the violence in civilian areas.
2. The plague is spreading rapidly in Madagascar
The plague is spreading rapidly in Madagascar, putting the African island nation on high alert.
The infectious disease has already killed more than 40 people and infected almost 400 since August. The Madagascar Ministry of Public Health first reported the outbreak in September, and subsequent investigations have determined that patient zero was a 31-year-old man with “malaria-like” symptoms traveling by public transportation back to his home on the coast.
Since then, schools have closed and the government has halted public gatherings to prevent further outbreak.
Plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis and comes in three forms. Bubonic plague was the scourge of the Middle Ages, killing 60 percent of Europe’s population. The form of plague currently spreading in Madagascar, pneumonic, is technically deadlier. It occurs when bubonic plague goes untreated and bacteria spreads to the lungs.The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated the outbreak as a grade 2 emergency, in a second external situation report, meaning response will be coordinated for “a single or multiple country event with moderate public health consequences.”
WHO plans to send 1.2 million doses of antibiotics and $1.5 million in emergency funding to Madagascar to fight the spread of the disease. Medicine will be distributed to health clinics throughout the country to treat victims, as well as those at risk for exposure.
Why it’s important
Madagascar usually reports around 400 deaths annually from bubonic plague, but this outbreak has spread more quickly, already approaching the usual number for an entire year. While the bubonic plague is spread between humans through infected flea bites, pneumonic plague can be spread from human to human through unprotected contact with bodily fluid and victims can show symptoms in just 24 hours.
Madagascar is also one of the poorest countries in the world, according to the World Bank Group. Infrastructure on the island, including basic road, water and power systems, has suffered following a decrease in international aid, natural disasters and budget cuts. Money for disease research is also hard to come by. These factors could make it more difficult for Madagascar to handle a disease outbreak like the one it’s experiencing now.
3. Egypt has had a surge in arrests of LGBTQ people
Egypt has for years made clear it does not approve of its LGBT population. (A 2013 Pew poll, for instance, showed just 3 percent of its population thought society should accept homosexuality).
Over the past few weeks, one advocacy group says, the government has arrested 54 LGBT people, part of the fallout from a concert at which rainbow flags were flown.
As PBS NewsHour’s Michael Boulter reports, the surge in arrests came after a performance from popular Lebanese rock band Mashrou’ Leila, whose lead singer is gay.
“The number of arrests has surpassed the Queen Boat incident in 2001, which was once the largest crackdown of LGBTQ citizens in the country. Then, under Egypt’s ex-President Hosni Mubarak, police raided a floating nightclub called the Queen Boat, arresting 52 people. They were charged with “habitual debauchery” and “obscene behavior,”” Boulter wrote.
Why it’s important
Even as arrests continued last week, the international community has remained mum on the issue of LGBT rights in Egypt, advocacy group Human Rights Watch says.
Aside from the risk of more arrests following last week’s concert, Egypt is also currently considering legislation that would criminalize homosexuality. (Currently, homosexuality is not a crime, but homosexual acts in public are, The Guardian says). It’s not clear, as Boulter pointed out, whether that legislation will come up for a vote.
4. St. Louis police officers under scrutiny for how it’s handled protests after the Stockley verdict last month.
Protesters immediately took the streets of St. Louis, Missouri, last month after a judge acquitted white, ex-officer Jason Stockley in the 2011 fatal shooting of black motorist Anthony Lamar Smith.
More than 300 arrests have been in the weeks since, with the St. Louis Police Department criticizing subgroups of protesters within otherwise largely peaceful demonstrations for violent clashes with police and property damage.
However, the police department has now come under intense scrutiny for how it’s handled the protests since mid-September. Acting U.S. Attorney Carrie Costantin has passed on a request from St. Louis officials who want the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to conduct an independent federal investigation into police conduct reported in recent weeks, including reports of excessive use of force and the use of chemicals during arrests, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Buzzfeed went into detail on what advocates have said about the St. Louis officers and their reportedly unlawful use of force and mass arrests of people, and how those things have affected protesters and journalists.
Why it’s important
The Trump administration has repeatedly hawked its law-and-order goals and de-emphasized federal civil rights enforcement, as seen with Attorney General Jeff Sessions criticism of consent decrees, the court-enforced agreements between U.S. cities and their troubled police departments with the government.
With this as a backdrop, it’s unclear if DOJ will launch an investigation into St. Louis, a city currently under a consent decree after the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown.
On Monday, dozens of protesters met with a pair of city judges, as well as police representatives, local media reported.
5. Malala’s first day at Oxford
Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist who was once targeted for assassination by the Taliban, attended her first lectures today at the University of Oxford.
The 20-year-old tweeted a photo of a handful of books next to a laptop, saying, “Five years ago, I was shot in an attempt to stop me from speaking out for girls’ education. Today, I attend my first lectures at Oxford.”
5 years ago, I was shot in an attempt to stop me from speaking out for girls' education. Today, I attend my first lectures at Oxford. pic.twitter.com/sXGnpU1KWQ
— Malala (@Malala) October 9, 2017
Why it’s important
Yousafzai was shot in the head by militants because of her advocacy for girls’ education. Since then, she has become an international figure, who was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. (And, a young woman who can go to college with her peers).