Navalny's wife accuses Kremlin of murder cover-up and California braces for more flooding: Morning Rundown

The Kremlin is accused of hiding Navalny’s body to cover up his murder. A student and a woman shot at a Colorado university dorm have been identified. And could more Black cardiologists help lessen the burden of heart disease?

Here’s what to know today.

Navalny’s wife accuses Kremlin of covering up his murder

Anniversary of assassination of Boris Nemtsov
Sefa Karacan / Anadolu via Getty Images file

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s widow accused the Kremlin of hiding his body to cover up his murder in an Arctic penal colony and vowed to continue her late husband’s fight against President Vladimir Putin. Her comments came after Navalny’s team said his mother and lawyers were denied access to his body and told the probe into what killed him had been extended.

“Three days ago, Vladimir Putin killed my husband,” Yulia Navalnaya said in a video posted to his YouTube channel. She said authorities were waiting for traces of “yet another Putin’s Novichok” to leave his body — referring to the military nerve agent used to poison him years ago. The Kremlin has denied involvement in that poisoning and dismissed suggestions Putin was behind his death on Friday.

Yulia vowed to continue her husband’s efforts. “We know exactly why Putin killed Alexei three days ago. We will tell you soon about it. We will also definitely find out who exactly and how exactly this crime was committed. We will name names and show faces,” she said in the video.

Israel vows Rafah ground assault by Ramadan if hostages are not freed

Israel has threatened to invade Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah by the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins March 10, if the remaining hostages are not released by Hamas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to ‘’finish the job’’ in Gaza as cease-fire talks stalled, with Netanyahu instead saying a hostage release “can be achieved through strong military action and tough negotiations.”

The International Court of Justice has begun hearings on Israeli occupation of lands sought for a Palestinian state in a case that will get to the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. An unprecedented number of countries will participate in the six days of hearings, which come after Israel’s government formalized its opposition to the “unilateral recognition” of an independent Palestinian state. 

Follow live updates.

Black people have the highest rates of death from heart disease. Could more Black cardiologists help?

Photo illustration of heart monitor reading, the back of a patient, and a doctor using a stethoscope
Leila Register / NBC News; Getty Images

Around 60% of Black American adults have heart disease, and death rates from the disease are highest among Black Americans compared to other racial and ethnic groups. Still, it’s rare for Black patients to find a cardiologist who looks like them.

Dr. Mary Branch, a cardiologist based in North Carolina, said she first became interested in cardiology nearly 20 years ago, after shadowing a white interventional cardiologist who was “very accepting of me,” she said. Branch said her path was a difficult one to follow, and included financial issues and discrimination — common hurdles for Black medical students and among the reasons, she said, why there are so few Black doctors in cardiology. Many Black medical students also experience microaggressions which can prevent them from becoming a cardiologist, Branch said.

For many Black patients, having a Black cardiologist creates feelings of trust and comfort, which can prove to be a challenge to find due to the medical system’s history of racism and mistreatment toward Black patients. 

Student and woman found gunned down in Colorado university dorm are identified

Two people found dead inside a Colorado university dorm room were identified as Samuel Knopp, a student at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and a woman, Celie Rain Montgomery, who was not enrolled at the university. The deaths were being investigated as a homicide, and police believe the killer may have been known to the pair. “Investigative efforts so far continue to indicate this is an isolated incident between parties that were known to one another and not a random attack against the school or other students at the university,” police said in their statement.

Police cited a coroner’s office autopsy for the identities but said the exact cause and manner of death were still forthcoming.

Knives are out for a MAGA influencer after RNC ouster

For more than a year, Charlie Kirk, the conservative activist, was aimed like a heat-seeking missile toward one goal — ousting Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.

It’s a battle he won. Just this week, former President Donald Trump endorsed a new slate of leaders to head the party apparatus and signaled that McDaniel’s four terms would soon come to an end.

Few Republican groups have had as meteoric a rise as Kirk’s Turning Point USA, which saw its fortunes grow as it attached itself to the Trump movement in 2016. But the RNC effort has Kirk increasingly under the microscope in Trump world. In recent weeks, at least three people, including McDaniel herself, have privately warned Trump about Kirk’s antics — which include attacks on Martin Luther King Jr., Black pilots and Taylor Swift — seven sources familiar with the discussions told NBC News.

Politics in Brief

Biden’s age: In the days since special counsel Robert Hur released a report that described Biden’s memory as “significantly limited,” lawmakers and presidential appointees have been stepping forward to attest to his acuity.

Election 2024: Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., is urging Democrats in Dearborn, Michigan, to vote against President Joe Biden in the state’s upcoming Democratic primary.

Donald Trump: Former President Donald Trump launched a line of sneakers, called Trump Sneakers, ranging in price from $199 to $399. The announcement came less than 24 hours after Trump incurred a more than $350 million penalty for engaging in repeated financial fraud through his family corporation. 

Congress: Rep. Mike Turner told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he sounded the alarm to his colleagues about Russia’s plan to put nuclear weapons in space out of fear that the Biden administration was “sleepwalking into an international crisis.”

Staff Pick: Young adults are getting used to living on a financial cliff

Photo Illustration: A couple has dinner near the edge of a cliff, as a wine bottle topples over the edge
Justine Goode / NBC News; Getty Images

As an elder millennial who’s heard my share of “avocado toast” scoldings, it was refreshing to read a report on young adult finances that takes seriously what it means to come of age amid recessions, crushing student loan debt and a pandemic. Many earning middle-class incomes in their 30s and 40s have finally built up some savings — and they’re going to enjoy what they have while they have it.

— Mark Lebetkin, senior copy editor.

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