Monday News: Red flags waving


ATTEMPTS WERE MADE TO GET PARKLAND SHOOTER COMMITTED BACK IN 2016: Officials were so concerned about the mental stability of the student accused of last month’s Florida schoolmassacre that they decided he should be forcibly committed. But the recommendation was never acted upon. A commitment under the law would have made it more difficult if not impossible for Nikolas Cruz to obtain a gun legally. Cruz is accused of the shooting rampage that killed 14 students and three school employees at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14. In addition, 17 people were wounded. But more than a year earlier, documents in the criminal case against Nikolas Cruz and obtained by The Associated Press show school officials and a sheriff’s deputy recommended in September 2016 that Cruz be involuntarily committed for a mental evaluation.

TRUMP ADMIN DOES DAMAGE CONTROL AFTER ANGRY TWEETS ABOUT MUELLER: President Donald Trump is not considering firing the special counsel investigating Russian election interference, a top White House lawyer said, after a cascade of Trump tweets revived chatter that the deeply frustrated president may be preparing to get rid of the veteran prosecutor. The late-Sunday statement from White House lawyer Ty Cobb came after top congressional Republicans warned of repercussions if Trump fired special counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking into contacts between Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia and Russian meddling in the presidential election. In a series of weekend tweets, Trump jabbed directly at Mueller by name for the first time. The president challenged the investigation's existence and suggested political bias on the part of Mueller's investigators.

PUTIN'S RE-ELECTION SHOWS DRIFT AWAY FROM DEMOCRACY: Final Russian election results show Vladimir Putin overwhelmingly won a fourth presidential term with 76.67 percent of the vote, his highest score ever. The Central Election Commission said Monday that communist Pavel Grudinin came in a distant second with 11.78 percent. Third was ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky with 5.66 percent. The only candidate to openly criticize Putin during the campaign, liberal TV star Ksenia Sobchak, won just 1.68 percent. Four other candidates also ran in Sunday's vote. Putin's most serious rival, opposition leader Alexei Navalny, was barred from the race. The electoral commission said official turnout was 67 percent. But observers reported widespread ballot stuffing and unprecedented pressure on Russians to vote.

TRUMP WANTS ANTI-MUSLIM FRANKLIN GRAHAM ASSOCIATE TO RUN UN MIGRATION AGENCY: U.S. President Donald Trump's nominee to head the U.N. migration agency acknowledges a controversy over his social media posts about Muslims and other topics, but insists "retweets are not endorsements" and says he wants to be judged on his actions as a humanitarian. Ken Isaacs spoke with reporters Monday as International Organization for Migration member states prepare to elect a successor to William Lacy Swing as director-general in June. Isaacs, a vice president at the evangelical Christian humanitarian organization Samaritan's Purse, led by Pastor Franklin Graham, pointed to his track record in the field and as a manager, saying IOM's work is "in my wheelhouse."

EU BRINGS MORE SANCTIONS AGAINST SYRIANS FOR DEVELOPING AND DEPLOYING CHEMICAL WEAPONS: The European Union has slapped sanctions on a senior Syrian military officer and three scientists accused of links to the development and use of chemical weapons against civilians. EU headquarters said on Monday that the four work at the Scientific Studies and Research Center, a Syrian government agency the EU says produces chemical weapons and missiles to deliver them. The center has been under EU sanctions since Dec. 2011. The move brings to 261 the number of people targeted by an EU travel ban and asset freeze over the crackdown on Syrian civilians and support for the government of President Bashar Assad or associating with certain government officials.