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Today: Syria Has a 'Big Price to Pay'

Today: Syria Has a 'Big Price to Pay'
A medical worker administers oxygen to a child after an apparent chemical weapon attack in the Syrian city of Duma. (Associated Press)

A reported chemical attack in Syria raises the stakes for President Trump's strategy, as an international outcry grows.

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For Syria, a 'Big Price to Pay'

The images are profoundly disturbing: dead or dying families, many of them children, in a suburb of Syria's capital. Activists and aid groups say dozens of people were killed in an apparent poison gas attack. President Trump blamed the Syrian government and warned of a "big price to pay" in tweets that also took aim at Russian President Vladimir Putin for backing Syria's Bashar Assad — "Animal Assad," as Trump called him. In turn, Syria and Russia labeled the accusations as "fake news." The incident comes a year after Trump ordered Tomahawk cruise missiles launched in response to a sarin attack in Syria and just days after he said he wanted American troops to leave the country soon. Early Monday, missiles reportedly struck an air base in central Syria; Russia and the Syrian military blamed Israel for the attack. The U.S. and eight other countries want a meeting of the U.N. Security Council today.

More Politics

-- The White House says U.S. and North Korean officials have participated in secret back-channel talks and Pyongyang has committed to a summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un that will touch on denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

-- Defense Secretary James N. Mattis signed an order to send up to 4,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border but barred them from interacting with migrants detained by the Border Patrol in most circumstances.

-- Trump suggested that China will ease trade barriers "because it is the right thing to do" and that Washington and Beijing can settle their disputes.

Did This Policy Boomerang on L.A.?

When it comes to the homelessness crisis in Southern California, there's no shortage of blame. Case in point: L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti has repeatedly pointed to the state's elimination of redevelopment agencies as a factor in the surge of homelessness. While the agencies went away, the money didn't; instead, L.A. decided to use these so-called boomerang funds for police, firefighters, city services and retired employees rather than for affordable housing. Advocates for the homeless call it a missed opportunity.

The Dream of Moving Back to Mexico

For generations, people from the Mexican town of San Juan de Abajo have come to the L.A. neighborhood of Lincoln Heights looking for a better life, just as those from other countries came before them. But things have begun to shift. Crossing the border has become increasingly difficult; rents are rising; jobs are scarcer. Meanwhile, San Juan de Abajo has become more prosperous. The fourth and final installment of our series "A Dream Displaced" examines why some are contemplating moving back to Mexico.

Lights, Camera, Redaction!

Hengdian World Studios is just a four-hour drive from Shanghai, but its faux palaces, gardens and even a full-scale replica of the Forbidden City feel as if they were centuries away. That makes it the perfect setting for historical costume dramas — as long as they conform to a view of history approved of by Chinese government censors. Under President Xi Jinping, films and TV shows there must foster "nationalist values," respect "traditional morality" and further the pursuit of the "Chinese dream."

Extras on set shooting "The Story of Ming Lan" at Hengdian.
Extras on set shooting "The Story of Ming Lan" at Hengdian. (Matjazž Tancic / For The Times)

Against All Odds

The thrill of victory. The agony of … victory. That's what Las Vegas bookmakers are pondering as the Vegas Golden Knights get ready for their improbable first playoff run in their first season in the National Hockey League. The better the home team does, the more financial hardship that's going to create for casinos. But many bookmakers say their hearts are with the Golden Knights, especially given how the organization helped the city heal after the October concert massacre. The team opens the first round against the L.A. Kings on Wednesday.

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OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

-- Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels, has much in common with Trump: brashness, media savvy and a messy professional history. He's also a part-time race car driver and coffee entrepreneur.

-- Mexico's disaster bonds were meant to provide quick cash after hurricanes and earthquakes. But it often hasn't worked out that way, in part because of a storm chaser from L.A.

-- A 57-year-old Manhattan Beach woman vanished 18 months ago with no leads. A volunteer cop told columnist Steve Lopez his troubling theory about what happened to her.

-- L.A. Metro officials and riders say sanitation and safety problems related to the homeless have reached crisis levels. The latest approach being tried: social workers on the subway.

-- Yamashiro, a century-old Los Angeles landmark, isn't exactly Japanese but is authentically L.A.

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MUST-WATCH VIDEO

-- These are the Central American migrants who drew the ire of Trump.

-- After winning the Santa Anita Derby, a horse named Justify is three for three and headed for Kentucky.

CALIFORNIA

-- To control healthcare spending, a new California measure would put the state in charge of setting prices for hospital stays, doctor's visits and most other medical services covered by commercial insurers.

-- On again, off again: Southern California's biggest water agency dropped a plan to pay for most of a major project involving tunnels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta, but now it's back on the table.

-- Authorities say they may have found one of the missing children who probably plunged off a Mendocino Coast cliff in a fatal car crash. Officials suspect the crash was intentional.

-- Yosemite National Park reopened to vehicles and visitors on Sunday after an intense tropical storm caused flooding.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

-- "A Quiet Place" director and star John Krasinski discusses defying expectations and hiring Emily Blunt to co-star (yes, she's his wife).

-- Escapism 101: Theme park designers are preaching the importance of play over technology these days.

-- Bronx-born rapper Cardi B is seemingly everywhere right now. Here's why.

-- Jimmy Kimmel apologized for a joke about Melania Trump's accent and called for a cease-fire in his feud with Fox News host Sean Hannity.

CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD

It was roughly 50 years ago that Elton John and Bernie Taupin met in London through an ad posted in a music magazine. They'd go on to write "Your Song," "Bennie and the Jets," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "Candle in the Wind" and many more chart-toppers. Two new all-star tribute albums have given the two artists a different perspective of their work. "I think in the past I've possibly been very cavalier about the songs, and just accepted them as they are," Taupin says. "But when you hear all of those songs, back to back on both albums, you do kind of pat yourself on the back a bit and say, 'Wow.' "

NATION-WORLD

-- Opening statements in Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial are scheduled to begin, but a dispute over a juror may cause a delay.

-- A charter bus carrying teenagers returning from spring break struck a bridge overpass on Long Island, seriously injuring six passengers.

-- Authorities say a German man who killed two people and injured 20 others by crashing his camping van into a crowd in Muenster had a long record of petty crimes and almost certainly acted alone.

-- Iran's state media say Telegram, the most popular social media app there, will be blocked nationwide.

BUSINESS

-- Hollywood talent agencies are reshaping their roles in the entertainment business, and some fear the big agencies could end up with too much power.

-- A year after Dr. David Dao was infamously dragged off a United Airlines flight, airlines have made some promised changes. But, as you may have noticed, everyday annoyances and indignities remain.

SPORTS

-- Shohei Ohtani was nearly perfect in his home pitching debut for the Angels. It's only a matter of time before he achieves that perfect game, says columnist Dylan Hernandez.

-- Golfer Patrick Reed won the Masters, slipped on that green jacket, and the crowd did not go wild. Columnist Bill Plaschke looks at how Reed didn't get any respect ... no respect at all.

OPINION

-- Forcing judges to meet quotas won't reduce immigration court backlogs. It will undermine due process.

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-- H.R. McMaster's parting shot at his dictator-loving boss.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

-- The former Republican congressional aide who wrote the book on the "deep state" says the term has been misappropriated by Trump and his allies. (BuzzFeed News)

-- Some of those who survived a deadly hockey team bus crash in Canada in 1986 are trying to help others cope with the fatal Humboldt Broncos bus crash this weekend. (CBC)

-- Tom Lehrer's songs on science, math, the Cold War and more still resonate. He turns 90 today. (Nature)

ONLY IN L.A.

Grand theft ambulance? It's a problem nationwide, one that can quickly turn dangerous, given that "they are an inherently dangerous vehicle driven by someone not prepared to handle it," as one official puts it. Yet L.A. has to have set some sort of record for having two ambulances stolen in less than one week, along with a third city emergency vehicle also taken for a ride.

If you like this newsletter, please share it with friends.Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.

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