In our news wrap Monday, Iraqi security forces began a ground and air assault on the city of Tikrit, currently held by the Islamic State militant group. Also, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the longest-serving woman in Congress, announced she won’t seek re-election in 2016.
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Iraqi security forces have launched a new offensive against Tikrit, now held by Islamic State fighters. It’s their latest attempt to reclaim Saddam Hussein’s hometown, before they try to retake Mosul to the north.
Ground troops opened the assault on Tikrit with a rocket and artillery bombardment. They were backed by Shiite, Sunni and Iranian fighters and Iraqi planes.
Russian authorities insisted today they’re conducting a thorough investigation into the murder of Boris Nemtsov. He’d been a leading critic of President Vladimir Putin before he was gunned down Friday night near the Kremlin. On Sunday, thousands marched through Moscow in a silent tribute to Nemtsov.
Many charged Putin bears at least some blame for his death, but Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rejected that today.
SERGEI LAVROV, Foreign Minister, Russia (through interpreter):
The attempt to use the heinous killing of Boris Nemtsov for political purposes is despicable. This is a heinous crime which will be fully investigated within the full framework of the law to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice. President Putin immediately handed down all instructions and is ensuring special control over this investigation.
A woman who was with Nemtsov when he was shot said today she didn’t see the gunman.
Secretary of State John Kerry held a tense hour-plus meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov today in Geneva. Kerry complained last week that Russians have lied to his face about their actions in Ukraine. Today’s meeting came as the U.N. Human Rights Office announced more than 6,000 people have been killed in Eastern Ukraine since April.
Back in this country, fatal police shootings are drawing new attention today. Cell phone video showed Los Angeles officers wrestling a homeless man to the ground before shooting him Sunday. They said he grabbed for an officer’s gun.
In Cleveland, the mayor apologized for a court filing in the killing of Tamir Rice last November. The documents blamed the 12-year-old, who was carrying a pellet gun, for failing to prevent his own injury.
And at the White House, a task force called today for independent investigations in all such cases.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:
We have a great opportunity, coming out of some great conflict and tragedy, to really transform how we think about community-law enforcement relations, so that everybody feels safer and our law enforcement officers feel — rather than being embattled, feel fully supported.
There was also word the Justice Department will accuse police in Ferguson, Missouri, of longstanding racial bias in traffic stops. The New York Times reported investigators found the resulting animosity erupted when a white policeman killed an unarmed black teen last August.
Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest-serving woman in Congress, announced today she won’t seek reelection in 2016. The Maryland Democrat was elected to the House of Representatives in 1976. And she entered the Senate in 1987. Mikulski is now 78 years old.
In Baltimore today, she said it came down to her hopes for the final two years of her current term.
SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI, (D) Maryland:
I had to ask myself this question: Who am I campaigning for? Am I campaigning for me or am I campaigning for my constituents? I had to decide how I would spend my time, fighting for my job or fighting for their job? Do I spend my time raising money or do I spend my time raising hell?
Mikulski has been a vocal advocate on issues ranging from equal pay for women to protecting the environment.
House Speaker John Boehner came under new pressure over Homeland Security funding. Democrats urged a vote on a clean bill, minus provisions aimed at the president’s immigration policies. Boehner’s office declined to rule it out. Last week, dozens of Republicans rejected a three-week funding bill, so Congress passed a one-week measure. It expires Friday.
And on Wall Street, the Nasdaq composite index reached a milestone that it last hit 15 years ago, before the dot-com bubble burst. The index gained 44 points, to finish above 5000 for the first time since 2000. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 150 points. And the S&P 500 added 13.